For the past 20 years, the community of heritage scientists has frequently exploited the synchrotron radiation-based techniques offered at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), Grenoble, France [1]. X-ray imaging techniques (in particular, micro computed-tomography, µCT) are regularly employed to probe non-destructively the inner structure of objects and materials. In paleontology, this can offer information on the functioning and evolution of organs and organisms.

In addition, analytical techniques such as X-ray fluorescence (XRF), X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD), and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) are often used, alone or combined, for the chemical analysis of micro-fragments of historical manufactured materials.

The new capabilities offered by the ESRF upgrade “EBS” (Extremely Brilliant Source), as well as instrumental developments at new and strongly refurbished beamlines, have motivated the organization of a dedicated “EBS-workshop” about cultural and natural heritage, which was held in January 2020 at the ESRF, attracting more than 150 participants, among which were 90 new ESRF users.

This event has been fundamental in some of the developments of BM18, the new X-ray tomography beamline: before the ESRF EBS upgrade (complemented by Streamline that enhanced user operation through new procedures and systems), several beamlines were used for X-ray CT on natural and cultural heritage objects, namely BM05, ID17, and ID19. Each of them had distinct characteristics and they were very advantageous on their own, it was difficult to benefit from all of their properties simultaneously.

The main aim of BM18, is to increase the beam size with high energy and high coherence, together with increased available propagation distance to optimize propagation phase contrast imaging of large samples, by taking full advantage of the exceptional coherence level offered on bending magnet ports with the new ESRF-EBS lattice.

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