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Content archived on 2024-05-29

Innovative materials and technologies for the conservation of paper of historical, artistic and archaeological value

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Preserving history in writing

Important historical documents can now be safeguarded against deterioration with a variety of cutting-edge materials and techniques.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

Ageing documents and valuable written records from the annals of time are in danger of being lost forever if individuals and governments don't take concrete steps to preserve them. The EU-funded project Papertech developed new diagnostic systems to assess deterioration and find solutions. The project experimented with different techniques such as X-ray fluorescence, optical microscopy, infrared spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to assess ageing. It elaborated NMR techniques to assess structural variation of paper materials to create a portable non-invasive device that measures degradation. Papertech also developed a portable triaxial geometry energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, in addition to non-harmful infrared microscopy tools and other devices that would further its aims. Among the project's other developments was a new enzymatic test to study paper susceptibility and resistance, accurately assessing how different chemicals can protect against biodegradability. Another was the use of polymer coating to strengthen archive documents, involving as well co-polymerised acrylic monomers grafted onto degraded paper. Through these advances and others that measure properties of ageing paper, the project was able to identify the efficacy of its protective and consolidation procedures. Lastly, Papertech outlined guidelines for optimal diagnostics, restoration and conservation, including prevention and maintenance of historic records, helping preserve important elements of our past.

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