Analytical methods for the environmental degradation of cultural heritage

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course provides an introduction to instrumental techniques of chemical analysis and structural characterization of cultural heritage materials, focusing on the environmental effects on such materials and paying particular attention to experimental aspects and data interpretation. The aim of the course is therefore to make the student understand what compositional and structural information can be obtained from this type of investigations on the original materials and their degradation products.
Expected learning outcomes
Ability to interpret and use analytical information from the findings and possibility of intervention for conservative purposes.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
If the sanitary emergency should continue, lessons and exams will be performed as described below.
Module prof. Bruni: The lessons will take place remotely, mainly in asyncronous mode by use video presentations that will be loaded on the Ariel website of the module.
Module prof. Castellano: The lessons will take place remotely, mainly in asyncronous mode but also possibly partly in syncronous mode by use of Microsoft Teams.
Module Prof. Trasatti: The lessons will take place remotely, in synchronous on the Teams platform.

In case of impossibility to perform the exams as described in the present Syllabus, the tests will take place remotely in the form that will be indicated on the Ariel website at the end of the course.
Course syllabus
Module prof. Bruni: Atmospherical pollutants and their effect on cultural heritage. Summary of the most important techniques for the analysis of environmental degradation of materials. Degradation of stone, mortars, natural and synthetic dyes and plastics. Effect of indoor pollutants on materials in museums and exhibitions.
Module prof. Castellano: Diffraction as an analytical tool for the characterization of cultural heritage. Methods and examples. Diffraction on polycrystalline and single crystal materials. The EXAFS technique applied to the characterization of cultural heritage. Non destructive analytical characterization of cultural heritage. SEM microscopy and EDS electronic microprobe. Examples of application of SEM/EDS microanalysis: studies on the "Holy Shroud", characterization of pigments and finds.
Module Prof. Trasatti: Metals and alloys. Crystalline lattices and lattice defects. Solidification mechanisms. General features of phase diagrams. Iron-carbon diagram. Metallographic analysis. Introduction to optical and electronic microscopy. Corrosion basics. Pourbaix diagram, Atmospheric corrosion. Study cases.
Prerequisites for admission
Base knowledge of general, analytical and organic chemistry are required to attend the course.
For a deeper understanding of the topics of Prof. Trasatti's module, the attendance of the Bachelor's course of Archeometallurgy in the Science and Technology for studying and preserving the Cultural Heritage and Information Storage Media is highly recommended.
Teaching methods
Module prof. Bruni: The teaching will be based on frontal lessons.
The website of the module is
Module prof. Castellano: The teaching will be based on frontal lessons.
Module Prof. Trasatti: The teaching will be based on frontal lessons delivered in the face-to-face classroom.
Teaching Resources
Module prof. Bruni: The reference material is constituted by the slides of the lessons, made available on the web page of the course.
Module prof. Castellano: The reference material is constituted by the slides of the lessons, made available on the web page of the course.
Module Prof. Trasatti: PDF, Powerpoint presentations or Videos will be utilized during the lessons and a copy of the didactic material will be available for the students.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam is based on a written test for each module, aimed to assess not only the acquired knowledge but also the capability of discussing critically a problem related to the subjects of the course.
The results of the test for each module are reported on the corresponding website.
The final mark is communicated through the electronic service Vweb.
CHIM/01 - ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours