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Graphene as effective anti-fading agent for the protection of artworks

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GRAPHENART (Graphene as effective anti-fading agent for the protection of artworks)

Reporting period: 2017-10-01 to 2019-03-31

Art materials are highly prone to degradation. Fading, as well yellowing and discolouration are the most common degradation effects on artworks triggered by the exposition to ultraviolet, visible light and oxidizing agents. The result of these degradation mechanisms is a severe and irreversible alteration of artwork appearance, which is a patrimony of mankind. The main aim of ERC-PoC GRAPHENART is the design and development of innovative, multi-functional graphene-based products with engineered activities such as UV shielding, de-acidification, oxygen and humidity blocking to be used as anti-fading agents for the protection of modern paintings and artworks. The huge number of artworks that fill museums and private collections worldwide will surely benefit from this durable and efficient solution to guarantee long-term protection.
Graphene-related and other 2D materials have been demonstrated to provide considerable ultraviolet shielding and barrier against vapour, oxygen and other gases. Therefore, they can be potentially exploited to tackle the fading and colour changes of inks, dyes and varnishes, and employed as protective -yet removable- coatings on a variety of art works such as paintings, prints, photographs, manuscripts and even sculptures.
In light of the above, two types of prototypes have been developed: i) cm-size graphene membranes to be deposited onto paintings and photographs and (ii) graphene-based inks and artists’ and architectural paints with intrinsic enhanced UV, oxidation and humidity resistance.
Regarding (i) the production of graphene protective membranes for artworks has been automated and scaled-up by synthesizing large graphene sheets in a semi-industrial Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) reactor and by designing a roll-to-roll system for automatic transfer of graphene membranes onto artworks. Furthermore, transparent membranes have been deposited on several life-size paintings donated by a Greek artist and, after exposure to accelerating aging, have been found to provide good protection against fading/ discolouration.
With reference to (ii) graphene powders have been successfully incorporated in inks and dyes and have been found to provide resistance to fading/ discolouration. Such graphene-doped paints can be used by artists for the production of artworks but can also be incorporated in architectural paints used in construction. The latter is a huge application area with great potential for expansion.
In collaboration with professional business consultants, competitive and market analysis of the technological areas described above has been performed in order to identify the attractiveness and the inventiveness of the solutions proposed. Indeed, a prior-art analysis has confirmed the novelty of the graphene based products and technologies for the protection of artwork and for use in the construction sector. A patent application has been filed to Hellenic Industrial Property Organisation and great effort has been done by the PI and the GRAPHENART team to attract further funding, through participation to several pitching and brokerage events.