Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - PAPERTECH (Innovative materials and technologies for the conservation of paper of historical, artistic and archaeological value)

The PAPERTECH project aimed to develop innovative diagnostic techniques and protocols in order to evaluate the deterioration degree of paper items of historical and artistic value, as well as to examine innovative materials and technologies for the conservation of such items.

Several techniques were applied and assessed during the course of the project, including optical microscopy, x-ray fluorescence analysis, Raman and infrared spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy and electron diffraction spectroscopy, Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, thermal analysis, x-ray diffraction and others. Taking into consideration the complex nature and composite structure of paper based items, some of the diagnostic techniques needed to be deeply modified and adapted in a novel way so as to be exploitable for PAPERTECH purposes.

The developed innovations included NMR applications for monitoring the structural variation of cellulose based materials that were subject to physical and chemical degradation and the creation of a fully portable, non invasive unilateral NMR instrument that was suitable for in situ measurements. Moreover, a portable triaxial geometry energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometer for applications in the field of artistic and cultural heritage, including works on paper, was designed, as well as a non invasive, non destructive portable Raman microprobe and a micro X-ray spectroscope. Existing non destructive infrared microscopy methodologies were assembled to allow for the direct analysis of artworks. Image processing techniques were also optimised.

In addition, an enzymatic test for the study of paper susceptibility and resistance against biological attacks was identified. The test was very sensitive in evaluating the protective action of different chemical treatments against biodegradability. Procedures based on the use of preformed polymers as a coating to stabilise and strengthen archive documents were also developed, along with reinforcing methods that exploited the synergy between a cross linker and natural coating polymer agents. The in situ graft copolymerisation of acrylic monomers, which could be directly applied on the cellulose fibres of degraded paperwork, was also proposed.

Apart from that, a system that combined artificial ageing tests with measurements of various properties was developed, to determine the efficacy of protective and consolidation procedures. Finally, several recommendations were formulated, regarding the optimal diagnostics procedures, the necessary restoration and conservation methods and the prevention and maintenance techniques that could be applied to reduce deterioration of historical documents.

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