Nanoscience of Daguerreotypes

The daguerrotype is the earliest form of photography, invented in 1839 by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre. These incredibly detailed images are a form of 19th century nanotechnology. Some of these priceless works are decaying -- developing spots, becoming cloudy, disappearing altogether -- and no one knows why. In a collaboration between the George Eastman House International Center of Photography and the University of Rochester's Integrated Nanosystems Center (URnano), Prof. Bigelow, Brian McIntyre (UR), Ralph Wiegandt (Eastman House), and their students are exploring the intricacies of daguerreotypes, why they decay, what's growing on them, and how to save them. This work, funded by the National Science Foundation SCIART program, is also building understanding of nanoparticles that could be useful in nano-engineering, medicine, and technology. 

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Research on Au & Ag spectroscopy of daguerreotypes by undergraduate Travis Kohler (UR), NSF-REU 2014

Research on gilding & biology of daguerreotypes by undergraduate Emily Thompson (Clemson), NSF-REU 2013

Funding for this work is provided in part by the National Science Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation program on Chemistry and Materials Research at the Interface between Science and Art (SCIART), The George Eastman House, The University of Rochester Nanosystems Center, and NSF-REU.