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Scientists in Italy are reporting development and use on Renaissance masterpieces of a simple, less-expensive method for the world's most delicate cleanups — on precious paintings and other works of art. The methods use oil-in-water nanocontainers to restore artwork dulled by centuries-old buildups of grime and damaged from floods and failed past attempts at preservation, according to a study scheduled for the May 22 issue of ACS' Langmuir, a bi-weekly journal.
In the study, Piero Baglioni and colleagues describe tiny droplets of cleaning agents suspended in water to form microemulsions. These nanocontainers have several advantages over traditional methods, which may involve the use of pure organic solvents. The microemulsions have a milder cleaning action, for instance, less likely to damage fragile surfaces. In addition, they use up to 95 percent less organic solvent and have less of an environmental impact than traditional cleaning methods. "These innovative systems are very attractive for the low amount of organic solvent. . . and the very efficient and mild impact of the cleaning procedure on the fragile painted surfaces," the report states.
Researchers report on successful use of the technology in actual restorations, including a Renaissance painting that had been degraded by application of a polyacrylate coating during a previous restoration attempt and removing tar-like deposits from a fresco in Florence that was damaged during the 1996 flooding of the Arno River.
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Piero Baglioni, Ph.D.
University of Florence
Phone: 39-055 4573033
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