Analytical Chemistry for Cultural Heritage

Articles in Focus

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Article 1: Non-invasive Investigations of Paintings by Portable Instrumentation: The MOLAB Experience 

by B. Brunetti, C. Miliani, F. Rosi, B. Doherty, L. Monico, A. Romani, A. Sgamellotti

The in situ non invasive methods have experienced a significant development in the last decade because they meet specific needs of analytical chemistry in the field of cultural heritage where artworks are rarely moved from their locations, sampling is rarely permitted, and analytes are a wide range of inorganic, organic and organometallic substances in complex and precious matrices. MOLAB, a unique collection of integrated mobile instruments, has greatly contributed to demonstrate that it is now possible to obtain satisfactory results in the study of a variety of heritage objects without sampling or moving them to a laboratory. The current chapter describes an account of these results with particular attention to ancient, modern, and contemporary paintings. Several non-invasive methods by portable equipment, including XRF, mid- and near-FTIR, UV–Vis and Raman spectroscopy, as well as XRD, are discussed in detail along with their impact on our understanding of painting materials and execution techniques. Examples of successful applications are given, both for point analyses and hyperspectral imaging approaches. Lines for future perspectives are finally drawn.

Article 2: New Frontiers in Application of FTIR Microscopy for Characterization of Cultural Heritage Materials 

by S. Prati, G. Sciutto, I. Bonacini, R. Mazzeo

We present an overview of recent advances in the application of Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) microscopy for analysis of complex, multicomponent, and multilayer samples such as those typically encountered in the field of heritage materials. This technique is particularly useful since it allows identification and localization of both organic and inorganic (if IR active) compounds. New improvements have been possible thanks to the introduction of ad hoc sample preparation methods to obtain either thin or cross sections that allow both avoidance of contamination from organic embedding resin and improvement of the quality of the acquired spectra. Moreover, integrated use of spectra registered in the near-infrared (NIR) and mid-infrared (MIR) regions allows better comprehension of cross section composition. Data interpretation has been improved thanks to the development of chemometric methods for elaboration of hyperspectral data. A new and very promising field is the development of enhanced FTIR methods for detection of trace components in microextracts. These systems, allowing detection of extractable organic compounds from about 0.1 mg of sample, will be extremely useful in the future for analysis of natural and synthetic colorants, varnishes extracted, for instance, from cotton swabs used during cleaning of paintings, and organic residues on archeological remains.

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Guest Editor:

© SpringerRocco Mazzeo  

Dipartimento di Chimica,”GiacomoCiamician”, Università di Bologna

Rocco Mazzeo is full professor of chemistry for cultural heritage and Programme Director of the international Master degree course (LM) in Science for the conservation-restoration of cultural heritage at the University of Bologna. He also heads the Microchemistry and Microscopy Art Diagnostic Laboratory (M2ADL) at the Chemistry Department of the same University. 
As a chemist he has devoted all his career to science for conservation training and research at both national and international levels, first as an employee of the Italian Ministry of cultural heritage (1981-1998) and then at ICCROM as responsible for the science for conservation programme (1998-2002).
Among the many national and international projects he has been coordinating, it is worth mentioning the establishment in 1998 of the Xi’an Centre for the Restoration of Cultural Relics in China (1995-1998), the UNESCO research study on the north Korean Koguryo dynasty (37 B.C – 668 A.D) mural paintings (2003-2006), the coordination of the CURRIC project aimed at developing curricula for post-graduate education in science for conservation (2000-2003) and the first European PhD in Science for conservation (EPISCON project) funded by the Marie-Curie VI Framework Programme (2005-2009).
He is author of numerous scientific papers published within both national and international peer reviewed scientific journals. His main research interest and expertise deals with the application of different advanced analytical techniques, and FTIR and Raman molecular spectroscopy in particular, on the study of painted artworks and archaeological and artistic metal alloys.