Koen Janssens is Chairman of the Department of Chemistry of Antwerp University, Belgium and graduated there in 1985. He is Professor of General and Analytical Chemistry, specializing in the use of intense X-ray beams for non-destructive analysis of materials of environmental and cultural heritage origin. He frequently makes use of the synchrotron radiation facilities in Hamburg (HASYLAB, DESY), Grenoble (ESRF) and Saclay (SOLEIL). He is (co)author of ca 160 scientific papers on these topics.
In 2000 and 2004, he published the scientific books “Microscopic X-ray fluorescence analysis” (Wiley) and “Non-destructive microanalysis of Cultural Heritage materials” in Elsevier’s “Comprehensive Analytical Chemistry” series. He is considered to be one of the pioneers employing beams of intense synchrotron radiation for the non-destructive analysis and imaging of cultural heritage materials and artifacts.
In 2006 he was awarded the Masao HORIBA award for his accomplishments “regarding X-ray based speciation of heterogeneous analysis of environmental and cultural heritage origin.”
His current research interests reside with the development and use of innovative analytical instrumentation and methods for non-invasive and non-destructive analysis of cultural heritage artifacts and materials. Recent studies included the imaging of hidden layers below the surface of paintings of Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Goya and Runge while also attention was given to the elucidation of the degradation mechanism that affects the visual outlook of artists pigments such as cadmium yellow, chrome yellow and vermillion red. This activities involve the study of paintings of artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cezanne and James Ensor but also of Peter Paul Rubens, Hans Memling and Pieter Breughel.
For these studies, next to making use of high-tech facilities such as synchrotrons, he collaborates intensely with several art conservation and diagnostic laboratories such as C2RMF (Centre de Restauration et de Recherche des Musees de France), CRCC (Centre de Recherche sur la Conservation des Collections, Paris) and with different partners in the CHARISMA consortium (Perugia, Italy).