Phaneuf Delivers Keynote on Conservation Research

Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) professor Ray Phaneuf delivered a keynote address at the 10th Nanoforum conference and expo, held at Sapienza University of Rome in September 2014.

Phaneuf spoke on the use of nanotechnology for cultural heritage conservation. For the past several years, his group has been working with conservators from the Walters Art Museum to develop nanometers-thick metal-oxide coatings that protect silver from tarnish. The coatings, applied using atomic layer deposition, are designed to be invisible, safely removable, more consistent and longer-lasting than the meticulously hand-applied layer of nitrocellulose lacquer typically used by conservators.

The work has been expanded to explore its potential for preserving bronze and patinas through MSE graduate student Amy Marquardt’s collaborations with the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute and the University of Trento, Italy. Another Phaneuf Group member, NSF Graduate Research Fellow Willa Freedman, is studying how the coatings could be applied to limestone used in historic buildings such as the Castel del Monte, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Apulia, Italy.

Published September 25, 2014