Industrial Liaison Office

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Medieval glassware

Atmospheric corrosion on a fragment of glass from the window of a gothic cathedral Atmospheric corrosion on a fragment of glass from the window of a gothic cathedral

The preservation of artistic and archaeological goods requires the processes and materials used to stabilise damaged structures to be carefully evaluated. In particular, glass fragments interred or exposed to the atmosphere suffer corrosion from environmental influences, such as humidity, pollution and microorganisms, which can alter their chemical make-up and morphology.
The most common solution for maintaining specimen integrity is the application of a polymeric substance to coat its surface and, in some cases, penetrate and fill fissures, pores and cracks. The effectiveness of treatment can be guaranteed only by analysing the object to verify that the applied coating has strong and homogenous adherence.


Elettra's contribution
At the Elettra laboratory, phase contrast microtomography based on synchrotron light has been employed to examine corroded medieval glassware in a way that meets these needs.
The special coherence of X-rays has confirmed this technique as an effective non-invasive tool to provide accurate information about delicate and precious archaeological fragments.


Facility: SYRMEP Beamline
Phase contrast microtomography for archaeological glasses; S. Gerlag, H. Römich, E. Lopéz, F. Zanini, L. Mancini, L. Rigon; in "COST Action G8: Non-destructive testing and analysis of museum objects", 2006.