Lasers will be used to clean buildings in place of more harmful sand, water or chemical treatment if a European project, Restor, succeeds. The aim is to develop a laser process capable of cleaning 10m2 of building facade every hour.
But at present the method, developed in France by laser specialist BM Industries and the French national laboratory for the conservation of monuments, is too slow except for the finest and most valuable of sculptures.
UK company Neural Computer Sciences, Southampton, has been chosen by Restor to supply a laser control and guidance correction system to make laser cleaning faster.
Laser quality is affected by environmental conditions such as temperature. NCS will develop embedded neural networks that take various sensor inputs and correct the pulsating beam profile so it is of the right power and quality for the job.
Pulsed lasers operate in 10 nanosecond bursts on a 20kHz cycle to bombard surface dirt, leaving the building undamaged.