Innovative nanomaterials for cultural heritage

Preserving the unique European Cultural Heritage (CH) is a challenging task. In the last decades, environmental pollution in European cities has dramatically increased hindering the preservation and accessibility of both movable (e.g. archives and paintings collection) and immovable (e.g. buildings and monuments) CH. Lengthy and poorly effective restoration practice negatively affect the social and economic activities related to CH valorization. Nowadays, nanotechnology has become a popular tool to produce advanced materials, even in cultural heritage field. Examples include advanced conservation products, such as self-cleaning, deacidification, consolidation, depollutant or repellence; some of these products are already on the market. Among the produced nanomaterials both nanoparticles (TiO2, SiO2, carbonates, and others) and composite systems (organic/inorganic) have shown great effectiveness. The main problem of ‘classic’ materials regards the formation of thin surface coatings that poorly adhere to the substrate, resulting in a low durability. For this reason, the development of long-lasting solutions based on nanotechnology (i.e. functionalized nanoparticles integrated in a matrix capable of penetrating the pore structure of substrates and subsequently adhere to CH materials) is a promising approach to be investigated. Namely, in most cases the materials have the same (or very similar) composition and physico-chemical properties than those of the artifacts, in order to grant the full compatibility with the original art materials. In cases where full compatibility cannot be achieved, the goal is the development of materials whose application is, as much as possible, reversible. The session will illustrate state-of-the-art research achievements in the field.