ITMO's Student Re-Purposed an Arts Device for Space Industry Needs

Thanks to the collaboration between ITMO's Department of Optical-Electronic Devices and Systems and the Aerospace Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Laboratory of the Delft Technical University, Elvira Timofeeva went for an internship to the Netherlands. Under the guidance of Dr Vassilis Papadakis she modernized the hyperspectral 3D imaging device that has been created several years ago with the support of the European Commission for restoration works. Recently, the project has been closed, but the scientists decided to use the system's prototype for analysis of aerospace materials. But before that, the device had to be improved and tested for its new purpose. Elvira also had to integrate the TIPP data platform that is being developed at the laboratory into the hyperspectral system, as well.

"SYDDARTA combines two technologies: spectroscopy in the visible and infrared band and remote sensing. The system is made up of visible and infrared band radiation sources and a set of narrow-band optical filters and cameras. As a result, we receive a spectral cube: the system gets images in multiple narrow parts of the band. That's why it's called hyperspectral, - explains the student. - I worked with the infrared part, and also with hardware: I had to replace optical elements, change the source, work on the sensing system. The next stage was processing of the images. In the end we tested the modernized system and it worked, so it can well be used for aerospace materials analysis".

Elvira shares that the systems' important property was not the quantitative, but qualitative identification of the changes in pigment, its aging. Also, the system could reconstruct a painting in 3D, which gave a better view of the defects and separations. As for the aerospace materials analysis, Elvira conducted it using artificially aged and new composites. The indicator for the changes was the reflective spectrum in the infrared band: if it changed, then the presence of transformational changes became obvious.

"I want to note that the laboratory at the Aerospace Engineering Department I had my internship at combined ultrasound and optical analysis. The department works on materials for planes and rockets, turbines, etc. Now all these things are mostly made from modern composites the department is famous for - for instance, they've created the famous Glare material (GL - glass, A - aluminum, RE - reinforcing - Ed.). For my experiments, I was given artificially aged composites from optical fiber and epoxide resin", - notes the student.

According to Elvira, the system has decent sensibility that is enough for its purpose of detecting transformational changes in materials. Still, the results have to be refined before using them for a research article - the images have to have less noise. That will be the work of some other student, notes the girl. What's more, the system can still be used by any museum for its initial purpose.

Despite the high workload, Elvira had the time to get familiar with many people at the University. The staff there work a lot, but also know how to rest. What's more, Elvira also found time to participate in the SPIE Photonics Europe conference in Brussels, and then becаme a SPIE fellowship holder in the Netherlands.

"I tried to not just complete my internship program, working strictly according to the plan, but to develop. For instance, getting the chance to go to Italy for the IONS student conference was great luck. The conference was not really large-scale, but it was organized perfectly. Aside from reports, we had great networking, entertainment and rest. And we've only had to pay for lodging. It's great when one has such opportunities", - underlines the student.