The main action areas of the analytical laboratory are the scientific study of cultural heritage, research on materials and techniques of artistic production through appropriate methodologies, as well as expert appraisal of works of art. At the same time, the laboratory promotes training through both professional internships and curricular internships (masters, doctorates, and post-doctoral studies).
The main characterisation techniques available are X-ray microdiffraction (Bruker AXS with area detection system – GADDS), FTIR micro spectrometer (Nexus with Nicolet Continuum microscope), pyrolysis followed by gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (Agilent Technologies) and high-resolution liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry (Waters)
X-ray microdiffractometer (µ-XRD)
Bruker AXS with an area detection system (GADDS), model D8 Discover, equipped with a copper ampoule, Göbel mirror, Histar detector and collimators of various diameters.
This equipment enables the identification of the chemical composition of crystalline materials by conducting non-destructive analyses, both directly on the heritage asset and in previously collected samples.
Fourier transform IV spectrophotometer (mS-FTIR)
Nicolet Nexus spectrophotometer coupled to an infrared microscope Nicolet Continuum equipped with a mercury-cadmium-telluride (MCT-A) detector cooled with liquid nitrogen operating in the range of 4000-650 cm-1.
The FTIR technique is used in the material characterisation of organic and inorganic compounds and is particularly useful in the identification of binders, salts in stone minerals as well as some pigments.
Pyrolysis followed by gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (PY-GC/MS)
This equipment consists of a CDS Pyroprobe 2000™ platinum filament pyrolyser, an Agilent 6890N™ gas chromatograph equipped with an HP-5ms™ column from Agilent Technologies® and an electron impact mass spectrometer with Agilent 5975N™ quadruple detector.
It enables the identification of insoluble organic products in the most common solvents (water, ethanol, etc.) or with high boiling point such as oils, resins, varnishes, lacquers, and waxes.
High-Resolution Liquid Chromatography coupled with Mass Spectrometry (HPLC-MS)
The HPLC-MS equipment (Waters) is equipped with a mass detector and a UV-VIS detector. It is used in the characterisation of organic and inorganic materials soluble in a solvent or mixture of solvents, such as dyes, mordants and aqueous binders (tempers).
Accelerated Test Chambers
The laboratory has three chambers for artificial accelerated ageing that make it possible to test a wide range of materials under specific conditions. The Solarbox 3000e camera simulates degradation caused by sunlight under normal, critical exposure conditions, and through a window glass, using appropriate filters. The Ascott S120 t salt fog chamber can test degradation caused by exposure to a marine environment. The climatic test chamber FITOCLIMA 150 EDTU can create artificial accelerated ageing as a result of natural exposure to temperature and relative humidity.
The analytical laboratory has three Leitz optical microscopes specific for minerals, metals, and biological materials.
Considering that laboratory work is mainly targeted at small samples, microscopes are a fundamental tool for characterising a diversity of materials, such as pigments, wood, skins, fungi, lichens, herbs, plants, insects, papers, and metals.
Anoxia treatment equipment
Equipment used to combat infections and/or infestations that sometimes affect works of art.
The equipment consists of a chamber where the objects to be treated are placed. This chamber is heat sealed and, through a valve, nitrogen is introduced to create an inert atmosphere – free of oxygen – that causes death to organisms within it. Another valve is placed to allow oxygen to come out and an oximeter ensures that oxygen content remains null inside the chamber.