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    Visibilia ex invisibilibus: seeing at the nanoscale for improved preservation of parchment

    Bartoletti, A. and Odlyha, Marianne and Hudziak, S. and Axelsson, K.M. and de Groot, J. and Bozec, L. (2017) Visibilia ex invisibilibus: seeing at the nanoscale for improved preservation of parchment. Insight - Non-Destructive Testing & Condition Monitoring 59 (5), pp. 265-272. ISSN 1354-2575.

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    This paper describes the application of atomic force microscopy (AFM) for the imaging of collagen denaturation as observed in parchment. Parchment is prepared from processed animal skin and collagen is the main component. Large collections in national archives, libraries and religious institutions contain numerous documents written on parchment. Their preservation presents an unsolved problem for conservators. The main challenge is to assess the state of collagen and to detect what conservators refer to as the pre-gelatinised state, which can cause surface cracking resulting in a loss of text and can increase the vulnerability of parchment to aqueous cleaning agents. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was first used within the Improved Damage Assessment of Parchment (IDAP) project, enabling the characterisation of the collagen structure within parchment at the nanoscale. Damage categories were also established based on the extent of the ordered collagen structure that was observed in the AFM images. This paper describes the work following the IDAP project, where morphological changes in the fibres due to both artificial and natural ageing were observed and linked to observations made by AFM. It also explores the merits and drawbacks of different approaches used for sample preparation and the possibility of using a portable AFM for imaging directly on the surface of documents. A case study on a manuscript from the 18th century is presented.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Natural Sciences
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 10 May 2017 08:23
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:32


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