Scientists from the AGH want to use nanotechnology to protect works of art

Developing effective and, above all, safe for health materials to protect works of art and monuments - this is the goal of the project carried out by scientists from the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków. According to the researchers, nanotechnology opens new possibilities in this field.

"We want to use modern nanomaterials to secure, conserve and mark works of art. Nanotechnology is a rapidly growing new field of science that opens completely new possibilities, which traditional means do not offer" - project manager Prof. Konrad Szaciłowski told PAP.

Restorer of works of art Natalia Balasa emphasised that the agents currently used for restoration are often not only ineffective, but also highly toxic. "We are looking for materials that are safe for humans and that would protect works of art and monuments better" - she explained.

Among the materials conservators needed she named substances to clean the paint cover. "Currently used agents often interfere with the structure of the painting, so that after years substances change their properties and colours" - she said. Conservators also need better impregnation solutions and pigments for paints.

According to a study in the framework of the project, on the Polish market there is a great demand for new, more effective, harmless materials. "Lack of safe substances and materials to care for the works of art significantly limits our capabilities" - said Balasa.

She noted that the materials, on which the scientists from AGH were working, could be useful to protect each object. They can bring murals, easel paintings on canvas and other surfaces to their former glory; they can be used in wall painting, restoration of sculptures and walls of historic buildings.

The first, concept phase of the project lasted one and a half years and is now coming to an end. In this part of the project scientists researched the needs of conservators. Research and development phase will soon begin - physicists and chemists in their laboratories will use nanomaterials and try to create substances which meet the needs of conservators.

"The use of nanotechnology and modern research methods should enable easier, safer for health and more effective conservation process" - said the initiator of the project Kacper Pilarczyk.

The first place, where the substances developed by the Krakow researchers would be applied, would probably be the underground of the Market Square, the Underground Market, a branch of the Historical Museum of Kraków. New materials would be used for the preservation of the medieval walls and monuments, depicting the old Kraków. Centres in Warsaw and Toruń are also interested in using the results of the scientists\' work.

The project "Science on the border of art - the synthesis of new nanomaterials for the needs of painting and conservation of monuments" is financed, among others, by the National Science Centre.

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland

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