Maintaining the cutting-edge research capability of ISAAC Lab

Lead Research Organisation: Nottingham Trent University
Department Name: School of Science & Technology


The Imaging and Sensing for Archaeology, Art history and Conservation (ISAAC) Lab established in 2006 within Nottingham Trent University, is at the forefront of developing advanced optical imaging, spectroscopy and remote sensing instruments and data science methods tailored for cultural heritage. It operates a unique and comprehensive mobile lab for collection-focussed interdisciplinary research both within the UK and around the world. ISAAC Mobile Lab has been accessed by over 30 cultural organisations across 4 continents including most of the museums, galleries, archives, libraries and other heritage organisations at the national level as well as regional organisations within the UK and major international heritage organisations. ISAAC Lab is also at the forefront of developing novel DIGILAB data processing facility to the world-wide heritage science research community, through the AHRC funded AI for DIGILAB project. The capability for collections fund proposal is to upgrade existing key instruments in the lab, many of which are cutting-edge instruments developed in past research council supported projects. This renewal of ISAAC Mobile Lab instrument capability and data science provision for DIGILAB will ensure that it stays at the forefront of heritage science research. This investment along with the match funding from NTU, will ensure the realisation of both the institutional strategic of prioritising the development of interdisciplinary research in cultural heritage and the vision of the ISAAC Lab to expand the application of heritage science to a broader range of research questions in arts and humanities and broader types of collections, and to push for heritage science data collection at scale through automated spectral imaging and innovative data science methods for handling large datasets.

All instruments requested for upgrade is unique or supports unique capabilities in the UK if not world-wide. ISAAC is the most appropriate to host these because the expertise of its personnel and the mobile lab (MOLAB) and DIGILAB will ensure a wide range of collections and institutions will benefit. This in turn broadens and benefits research conducted by the ISAAC Lab.

Research done by ISAAC Lab for heritage science has also been used for public engagement in museums and proven to be relevant not only to cultural heritage but also to a broader range of disciplines and industries from fundamental research in other science disciplines to industrial applications from quality control in manufacturing to monitoring industrial infrastructure for the energy sector. This proposal will also have knock-on benefits on all these aligned sectors demonstrating the impact of heritage science research on UK industry.

NTU has won a range of green awards over the past 8 years and its procurement department is committed to sustainable procurement and highly supportive of the project and will ensure timely delivery of the procurement activities.


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Description This is a capital grant for upgrading research infrastructure. A range of instruments have been upgraded which has help a range of projects that are externally or internally funded.
Exploitation Route The upgraded instruments will be used for ISAAC MOLAB to engage with museums. Already these have made an impact on 4 AHRC funded projects. new instruments were used during ISACC MOLAB's data collection campaign at the British Library, British Museum and the National Archives.
Sectors Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections