A Nanofocused Light on Stradivari Violins: Infrared s-SNOM Reveals New Clues Behind Craftsmanship Mastery

C. Stani, C. Invernizzi, G. Birarda, P. Davit, L. Vaccari, M. Malagodi, M. Gulmini and G. Fiocco

Analytical Chemistry 94, 14815 (2022)
It is well-known that all the phases of the manufacturing influence the extraordinary aesthetic and acoustic features of Stradivari’s instruments. However, these masterpieces still keep some of their secrets hidden by the lack of documentary evidence. In particular, there is not a general consensus on the use of a protein-based ground coating directly spread on the wood surface by the Cremonese Master. The present work demonstrates that infrared scattering-type scanning near-fields optical microscopy (s-SNOM) may provide unprecedented information on very complex cross-sectioned microsamples collected from two of Stradivari’s violins, nanoresolved chemical sensitivity being the turning point for detecting minute traces of a specific compound, namely proteins, hidden by the matrix when macro or micro sampling approaches are exploited. This nanoresolved chemical-sensitive technique contributed new and robust evidence to the long-debated question about the use of proteinaceous materials by Stradivari.