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Study of semi-synthetic plastic objects of historic interest using non-invasive total reflectance FT-IR

Cucci, C; Bartolozzi, G; Marchiafava, V; Picollo, M; Richardson, E; (2016) Study of semi-synthetic plastic objects of historic interest using non-invasive total reflectance FT-IR. Microchemical Journal , 124 pp. 889-897. 10.1016/j.microc.2015.06.010. Green open access

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Abstract

A significant proportion of modern and contemporary artifacts and objects of historical interest, are composed of materials in the form of synthetic, semi-synthetic, and natural polymers. Each class of polymer and corresponding composite plastics are subject to different degradation processes. This means that conservators and curators of 20th century collections are faced with varied, nontrivial preservation issues. An unresolved problem is the identification of early plastics based on semi-synthetic polymers such as cellulose nitrate, cellulose acetate, and casein formaldehyde, which were often used to imitate the more valuable natural materials such as ivory, tortoiseshell, ebony, and bone. This exemplifies the need for non-invasive methods specifically tailored for identification of plastic materials in collections, so as to provide conservators with a means of materials classification to support preventive conservation strategies and interventive treatments. The present work is aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of non-invasive Total Reflectance (TR) FT-IR spectroscopy, coupled with a custom reference spectral TR FT-IR library, for the identification of materials comprising a series of unknown objects. A set of ten heritage objects made from early semi-synthetic materials was used as a training test set to validate the proposed methodological approach. The FT-IR data acquired on the test objects were pre-processed and finally classified using commercial software tools used for the automatic classification of spectra in FT-IR spectroscopy. The procedure was successfully applied to several cases, although residual uncertainties remained in a few examples. The results obtained are critically analyzed and discussed in the perspective of proposing a robust method for in-field prescreening of the chemical composition of plastic artistic and historical objects.

Type: Article
Title: Study of semi-synthetic plastic objects of historic interest using non-invasive total reflectance FT-IR
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.microc.2015.06.010
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.microc.2015.06.010
Language: English
Additional information: © 2015 Elsevier. This manuscript is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivative 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This license allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work for personal and non-commercial use providing author and publisher attribution is clearly stated. Further details about CC BY licenses are available at http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/4.0. Access may be initially restricted by the publisher.
Keywords: Collections, Non-invasive identification, Plastics, Semi-synthetic polymers, Spectral matching, Total Reflectance FT-IR spectroscopy
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History of Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1469947
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