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Microgel technology for preservation of cultural heritage

Project description

Cultural heritage preservation based on gellan gum microgels

The EU-funded MICROTECH project goes beyond previous Modelling Microgels’ experiments to propose a more cost-effective and ready-to-use formula in preservation of paper artecrafts. Thanks to their natural properties, gellan gum microgels are recently proven to be more efficient and rapidly acting compared to hydrogels previously used in similar applications. The researchers’ ambition is to optimise the interaction of these smart nanoparticles with various surfaces apart from paper, aiming to contribute a great deal to cultural heritage preservation, amongst other uses. Private companies’ already expressed interest is expected to boost project success by testing microgel technology on real samples and conducting all necessary analyses for patent commercialisation in order to deliver a finished product.


This PoC proposal is dedicated to the development of a new soft matter technology for paper preservation. Building on the recent ERC grant of the PI, MIMIC, that was mainly a theoretical and numerical effort on “Modelling microgels” in close synergy with experiments, MICROTECH proposes to exploit this fascinating class of soft colloids in a new application for cultural heritage. Microgels are colloidal-scale polymer networks, whose properties intrinsically depend on those of the constituent polymers. While most studies deal with thermoresponsive ones, here we propose to use gellan gum, a widely used biopolymer, since gellan gum hydrogels have been previously used to treat paper artifacts. We recently showed the use of gellan gum microgels is more advantageous with respect to hydrogels both in terms of efficacy and of application time.
The proposed technology is ground-breaking because it will significantly reduce the economic costs of the treatment, it is environmentally friendly and also versatile. Indeed, we will functionalize the gellan macromolecule in order to optimize the specific interactions with the different nature of the surfaces to be treated. The main objectives of the interdisciplinary MICROTECH project will be to optimize the preparation, the functionalization and the long-time conservation of the microgels; to validate the technology on real samples, thanks to the collaborations with interested companies, who already expressed their Letters of Support; to perform a pre-commercialization study in terms of IPR and market analysis; to create of network of potential partners and users; finally, to deliver a ready-to-use microgel formulation and a business plan. Therefore, at the completion of the project, we expect that the technology will be available to potential end users.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
00185 Roma

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Centro (IT) Lazio Roma
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (1)