- Ida Ahmad
- Panagiotis Andrikopoulos
- Laura Arcidiacono
- Cecilia Bembibre
- Alexandra Bridarolli
- Natalie Brown
- Carolien Coon
- Cristina Duran Casablancas
- Morena Ferreira
- Dean Few
- Lucie Fusade
- Isabella del Gaudio
- Richard Grove
- Sarah Hunt
- Cerys Jones
- Mark Kearney
- Rose King
- Gavin Leong
- Yun Liu
- Hend Mahgoub
- Ian Maybury
- Antanas Melinis
- Martin Michette
- Dzhordzhio Naldzhiev
- Morana Novak
- Scott Allan Orr
- Danae Phaedra Pocobelli
- Anna Pokorska
- Jennifer Richards
- Pedro Rocha
- Betty Sacher
- Hayley Simon
- Chryssa Thoua
- Vladimir Vilde
- Frida Vonstad
- Andy Wade
- E. Keats Webb
- Charlie Willard
- Sue Wolff
Modelling the chemical and physical degradation of plastic objects in museum collections using a System Dynamics approach
Plastics represent one of the most vulnerable groups of materials in museum collections. As museums collect an increasing number of plastic or plastic-containing objects, the task of conserving these artefacts is a growing problem. Individual mechanisms which contribute to plastic degradation are well-documented, but it is poorly understood how different factors interact with each other. This project aims to understand these interactions using System Dynamics, a holistic approach which will mathematically model the object and its environment as a system. The research will help conservators make better, evidence-based decisions on how to conserve plastic artefacts, as well as developing a new way of understanding material degradation which can have applications in fields like medicine and defence.
This work is part of the ERC Starting Grant funded project “COMPLEX: The Degradation of Complex Modern Polymeric Objects in Heritage Collections: A System Dynamics Approach”.
Characterisation and implementation of new illuminants and their effect on the museum visitor.
The latest advancements in lighting technology have created new challenges and opportunities. The project sets to characterise new illuminants of spectrally fine-tuned artwork lighting systems sources in terms of colour appearance and preference for the human observer.
The ability of neutrons to penetrate thick layers of materials, without substantial attenuation, makes them an ideal probe to study the elemental and phase composition of bulk materials, in a totally non-destructive and non-invasive manner. Neutron techniques are increasingly being utilized for quantitative, non-invasive analyses in the fields of archaeology and cultural heritage and applied to a large variety of objects and materials including metals, ceramics, bones and other materials. The potential of neutron-based techniques for the sourcing of archaeological gold, however, has not been explored systematically. Laura will develop a novel neutron technique for performing Prompt Gamma Activation Analysis in time of flight in order to assess the provenance of gold artefacts from the pre-Hispanic period in South America. Determining the origins of the gold employed by different cultures is a fundamental foundation to make inferences about the relationships between different communities and their natural environment, as well as to reconstruct trade and interaction among human groups.
Smells of Heritage
Smells affect the way we experience the world and can carry important information about places and objects. This project researches the identification and documentation of heritage smells, conducting VOC detection and analysis using solid-phase micro-extraction plus gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and gas chromatography Time of Flight Analysis (GC-TOF) with olfactometric detection (GC-O). Trained and untrained evaluation panels are also used to assess human perception of smells.
A number of case study aromas from Knole House (National Trust) will be presented to the public to explore how historic odours affect the ways in which people interact with heritage sites.
Follow the progress on the project on Twitter: @ucqbbem
Nanoscale strategies using nanocellulose for the consolidation of cellulosic materials
In painting conservation, the consolidation of canvases is still a field which has seen little development despite the known risks involved. Moreover, most current canvas conservation approaches may no longer be suitable for modern paintings. Recent developments in functionalized biopolymers have given rise to possible alternatives to actual conservation products. During her PhD, Alexandra will participate to the development of novel nanocellulose treatments for the consolidation of cellulosic materials. Her work will be more specifically focused on painting canvas of the 20th century.
This PhD is carried out in the framework of the newly-launched European interdisciplinary program NANORESTART.
Collection Surveys as Part of Library Document Supply Chain
The project aims to better understand material change within large library collections and assess how non-destructive surveying tools (NIR) could be most straightforwardly applied, in the context of document delivery to understand the ‘health’ of the library’s collection.
Photo-degradation of polymer-based rapid-prototype materials and their conservation through nanotechnology-based treatments
3D prints are entering museum collections as artists explore new creative possibilities. Similarly, museums realise the potential of Rapid Prototype (RP) technology for public engagement and conservation. Some polymeric RP materials have shown to be unstable, presenting an un-researched conservation challenge. The degradation mechanisms of RP polymers are investigated and the effectiveness of novel nanomaterials for plastics conservation assessed. In addition, a method (microfading) to rapidly identify photosensitive RP objects is being developed.
Cristina Duran Casablancas
Libraries and archives are responsible for the management of collections in order to ensure access for present and future generations and its sustainability. In the interest of these two goals, institutions face the challenging question of determining to what extent preservation actions are beneficial in the context of their specific collections. This project explores the use of System Dynamics and related mathematical modelling techniques to evaluate the effect of preservation actions during the lifetime of collections by approaching collection management as a complex system. If single preservation measures are put in the broader context of collection management, then questions emerge such as: are there management decisions which may have contra-intuitive and maybe unintended consequences? Do short and long term consequences of actions differ from each other?
Mould and moisture related issues are common to many historic buildings around the world. Mould prevention involving environmental management tends to focus on controlling ambient relative humidity. However, this project explores the moisture present on the surface of substrates as a crucial parameter influencing mould development. The aim of this project is to research the impact of air movement on mould development by changing the moisture available on surfaces, and thus developing a preventive measure focused on microclimates with high risk of mould development.
Visualisation of semantically linked data to support the interpretation of cultural heritage collections
Heritage professionals generate and use extensive documentation of heritage material and their state of conservation. This data is typically digitised using a mixture of techniques including digitisation techniques such as photography, 3D scanning, chemical and biological analysis. The resulting documentation typically informs further research which is documented in various outlets, including journal articles, research papers and also linked data resources. This project, in collaboration with the Natural History Museum (London), will develop a framework for organising and visualising semantically linked data of heritage material. The objective is to enhance knowledge discovery and improve the dissemination of the collections. The research will advance the visualisation of integrated data; as there may be many different views for the same data under different contexts. Also there exists the issue of organising the views of multiple data types on screen, such as text, images or 3D data. In addition, the research will inform how heritage material is being used by the wider international community. Statistical analysis and appropriate visualization techniques will be employed to provide a greater understanding on this issue.
Pointing mortars for controlling driving-rain ingress in damp towers
Looking at traditional materials, such as lime mortar, this research aims to design a repair pointing mortar which can mitigate driving-rain ingress to historic buildings. The research focuses on characterising the physical and chemical roles of additives, such as wood ash and crushed stones, in order to enhance the properties of lime mortars.
Isabella del Gaudio
Plastics in Museum Collections – a study of their chemical and physical degradation using a System Dynamics approach
Plastics represent a challenging material among perfusionists in the conservation field, they degrade faster than classic heritage materials and their decay processes are still not fully understood. In fact, the COMPLEX project would like to create inter-connecting interactions between physical-chemical material components and environmental factors using a System Dynamic Model. In this research, both non-destructive and destructive techniques will be used in situ (at the Museum of London) on natural aged samples and in laboratory (at UCL) on sacrificable and artificially aged materials.
Richard’s project is based upon the monitoring of treated Sandstone in heritage settings. Sandstone buildings and monuments form a large proportion of the world’s built heritage, and can be some of the more vulnerable structures to environmental and human inputs. Efforts have been made over the last decades to develop consolidants and stabilising treatments for exposed or degraded stonework, but little is understood about their effectiveness and what impacts they may have on the treated material. This project will combine laboratory and field based assessment to design a range of evaluative techniques for use in practical conservation regimes.
Mary Rose: Assessment of Environmental Risks during Display
This project will focus on measurement and quantification of pollutants in display environments at the Mary Rose Museum and their impact on the stability of the artefacts. This includes pollutants such as NO2, H2S, O3 and organic acids, which represent unknown risks to the unique artefacts.
Working with conservators and archivists from the British Library and London Metropolitan Archives, the aim of this PhD is to produce a pipeline for multispectral imaging of documentary material in the heritage sector. This will identify the optimum approaches to acquiring multispectral imaging data in each of the different situations and enable archivists, conservators and scholars to produce multispectral images of historical manuscripts without the need of a specialist imaging scientist.
From Samples to Complex Objects: Detecting Material Degradation in Plastic Artworks
Research into the decay of modern materials found in heritage environments is a rapidly growing area within heritage science. This is due to the rapid and often catastrophic decay suffered by many commonly found polymers. Consequently, the need for accurate and reliable conservation treatments or monitoring programs are much needed. This project will exploit the information gained from the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) naturally emitted from polymers with the aim to detect and monitor the decay of 3D artworks on open display or housed in storage environments. Laboratory work (both at UCL and Arkema) will focus on developing an experimental method using solid-phase micro extraction gas chromatography mass spectrometry (SPME-GCMS); this methodology will then be implemented in the real-world heritage environment of the project’s heritage partner Tate.
In collaboration with the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute and Dow, this project seeks to use imaging and spectroscopic techniques to understand and quantify the dynamic processes of degradation caused by the loss of plasticisers from plastic objects in heritage collections. By exploring the relationships between the degree and rate of plasticiser loss, environmental parameters and the object’s material properties, this research aims to inform preventive conservation and storage conditions, with a particular focus towards two common historic plastics; PVC and Cellulose Acetate.
Following a landmark laser and photogrammetric survey of the stones at Stonehenge in 2011/12, the number of known prehistoric axe-head carvings on Stonehenge increased by 71. However, attempts at digitally removing lichen from the laser scan have largely been unsuccessful, as they also removed evidence for stone-working. Since dense coverage of fruticose lichen prevented examination of 23% of the stone surface, concern has been raised that areas of stone-working and prehistoric carvings could currently be masked by lichen.
Gavin’s project will develop machine learning, machine vision and, among others, pulsed terahertz imaging techniques to non-invasively unmask Stonehenge, and potentially reveal archaeological information beneath the lichen.
Online Collections Modelling Tool
This research project will develop an online platform to model and examine heritage management scenarios. This will offer an opportunity for interaction, creation, communication, and sharing of knowledge, bringing significant potential benefits to the public, the practitioners, and the experts and academics in heritage science and conservation.
Quantitative Chemical Hyperspectral NIR Imaging of Historical Cellulosic Materials
The overall aim of the project is to explore the analytical robustness of chemical imaging with a focus on the benefits and limitations of quantitative chemical imaging of cellulosic heritage materials. This project has a great potential to explore the spatial distribution of an object’s chemical composition and condition in addition to the study of the effect of the conservation treatments which will have an impact on the management and preservation plans of collections.
This PhD is carried out in the framework of the newly-launched European interdisciplinary program NANORESTART.
Hyperspectral imaging in Heritage: From Books to Bricks
Ian’s project investigates the use of hyperspectral imaging (HSI) in a heritage context learning how to best use the equipment to extract information such as hidden text, relief details, the presence of organic growth, and signs of deterioration. HSI will be applied to books/papers, museum objects, and architectural/archaeological heritage materials.
UCL Institute of Archaeology / English Heritage / Glashütte Lamberts
The project is centred on the investigation of fragile glass artefacts in the English Heritage collections with the perspective of providing more advanced guidelines for the sustainable preservation of vitreous materials in heritage institutions.
Most pre-modern glass actively absorbs water from the environment while losing its structural alkaline components in a parallel leaching process, which weakens the main silica network. Therefore, excessive fluctuations in the relative humidity (RH) of the surroundings as well as rapid drying can be detrimental to the structural integrity and aesthetic value of the objects. Hence, the goal of my research is to find the optimal storage conditions for glass through the identification of its most vulnerable types and chemical compositions, their industrial reproduction, artificial corrosion in high- humidity conditions, and eventual acoustic emission-aided identification of the minimal RH that would halt both crizzling (disfiguring surface cracking due to moisture loss) and further hydration.
Reigate Stone at the Tower of London: Developing preventive conservation strategies for problem stones
Reigate Stone was used extensively in South-East England between the 11th and 16th Centuries, contributing to a legacy of medieval heritage that ranges from parish churches to royal palaces. This project is part of ongoing research being conducted by Historic Royal Palaces into the nature of the stone; assessing how and why condition varies across different locations and developing effective conservation strategies accordingly. The aim is to evaluate the success of previous treatments and propose holistic, preventive strategies. These will be based on an increased understanding of decay mechanisms and make full use of novel techniques and technologies.
Novel Retrofit Technology Incorporating Robots for Lower Energy Healthy Buildings
More than 86% of the existing residential building stock in the UK has been built pre 1990. Before 1985, dwellings in the UK were not required to have any insulation in the walls or floors in order to achieve Building Regulations compliance. In order to address this urgent demand for retrofittng the existing stock, novel technologies have been recently adopted by applying spray foam insulation (SPF) to the underside of suspended timber floors through the use of robots. The potential for energy savings, reducing fuel poverty and carbon emissions is high, although the consequences to the indoor environmental conditions would need to be further examined. The research project aims to identify and quantify the interrelationship between energy saving potential, VOCs associated with the application, curing and usage of SPF and their potential effect on human health and historic wooden floors. Through experimental work and long term monitoring procedures, the research will be able to provide an overview of the overall impact of spray foam insulation on the environmental and energy performance of retrofitted historic buildings.
It is a common, cost-effective and environmental friendly practice in conservation field to use boxes for protection of valuable objects against external factors, e.g. T/RH flunctuations, light, pollutants, pests, and also from internal factors (degradation products, pollutants that are emitted by object itself). However, it is still not known what type of boxes (standard cardboard boxes or new materials that are used in field of smart packaging) offer best protection for different types of heritage objects (paper, plastics) and in what environmental conditions. This project will implement different methods such as environmental monitoring, modelling, laboratory and accelerated ageing experiments to answer several research questions: what new materials exist that could improve protection properties of boxes, what is the role of boxes in catastrophic events, can protective properties of boxes be modelled, and what kind of chemical protection do boxes offer (VOC absorption, reduction of T/RH flunctuations, antifungal activity).
Wet walls: Developing 4D moisture survey techniques for stone masonry
School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford / Historic Environment Scotland / Consarc Design Group
Scott’s current research applies a range of non-destructive testing methods on historical stone masonry to develop 4D moisture monitoring techniques. More broadly, he is interested in considering built heritage as complex chemical systems to understand their physical transformation in response to environmental change, in order to inform policy development and conservation practice.
Danae Phaedra Pocobelli
UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage / UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering / Historic England
/ English Heritage / Plowman Craven
This project will investigate the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) for heritage buildings. As BIM has been developed for new buildings, the use of this tool in the heritage field is still challenging. Specifically, Danae will focus on implementing BIM with a forecasting model connecting moisture ingress and façade weatherings. Using damage function, wind-driven rainfall models and the sharp front theory, a model predicting façade alterations will be produced, narrowing on one specific building material. The algorithm of a heritage-specific plug-in will then be coded to be possibly implemented into BIM.
Spectrally dependent light sensitivity of modern materials
This exciting and highly interdisciplinary project aims to probe the light sensitivity of modern materials more deeply and specifically to understand how the light degradation of modern polymers is spectrally dependent. An experimental degradation chamber with a spectrally-adjustable light source will be constructed and the effect of the spectrum of a light source on material degradation will be studied.
Learning from nature: evaluating site-based conservation approaches to mitigating climatic risks to earthen heritage sites in N W China
Earthen heritage sites are among the oldest types of cultural heritage sites in the world. These sites, which can be over thousand years old, are degrading rapidly and this loss of heritage is projected to increase with climate change. This project aims to address the fact that there is little consensus and a lack of long term research for earthen heritage conservation, with some conservation strategies even increasing the rate of degradation.
We will use fieldwork at the ancient city of Suoyang, located on the Silk Road in North West China, to investigate the relationship between patterns of degradation and microclimatic and environmental conditions. We will also develop a computer model to assess the benefits of natural conservation strategies such as wind breaks and vegetation cover. This research hopes to produce a robust long term conservation strategy for this ancient site.
Historical tapestries are very complex works of art given the materials, complex structure and weaving techniques used to produce them. This project aims to understand how the exposure to indoor environmental conditions results in the structural deterioration and loss of material in tapestries. The influence of humidity and temperature on the stress and strain distribution in hanging textiles will be studied in order to inform their preservation. This project will focus on the historical textile tapestry collections at Hampton Court Palace using in situ tri-axial strain monitoring sensors to provide data to inform experimental testing and computational modelling of tapestries using the finite element method.
Lighting Policies for Collections using Microfadeometry
This project will explore the potential of a micro-destructive technique, microfadeometry, to develop object- and collection-specific lighting policies and could thus significantly affect exhibition guidelines in collecting institutions. The research project will address these aspects while aiming to contribute to the day-to-day decision-making of collection care specialists.
Characterising marine archaeological iron degradation and the efficacy of treatments to date: worth a shot?
UCL Institute of Archaeology / Mary Rose Trust / Diamond Light Source / Eura Conservation Ltd
Iron, if left to its own devices, corrodes. This observation may seem obvious, but it is governed by a series of complex chemical reactions. Studies have pointed towards a link between corrosion and chlorine, and current conservation methods focus on removing chlorine ions using a number of desalination techniques. Owing to the unique nature of archaeological artefacts, comparing these treatments and assessing their effectiveness has been difficult. In this project, many issues will be overcome by studying the 1,000+ examples of iron shot recovered from the wreckage of the Tudor warship the Mary Rose.
A significant proportion of the school building stock in England and Wales could be considered as heritage. The challenge of reaching the Government’s target to reduce national carbon emissions by 80% compared to 1990 levels by 2050 is overwhelming, and this project addresses whether and how the Passivhaus standard could be applied to the new and existing school stock. The Passivhaus principles include: a) good levels of insulation with minimal thermal bridges, b) using passive solar gains and internal heat sources, c) excellent level of airtightness and d) good indoor air quality, provided by a whole building mechanical ventilation system with highly efficient heat recovery. This project aims to explore and compare the operational performance of contemporary schools built to the Passivhaus standard and of historic schools that are listed or with outstanding heritage characteristics, to analyse possible implications to retrofit of historic schools and to contemporary school buildings with the potential of becoming future heritage.
Comparison of painting lining methods for historic house environments
Considering the material complexity of the paintings and the various environmental context, it is necessary to evaluate correctly when a relining is required and how to optimise it. To tackle this challenge, non-invasive experiments are compulsory as sampling is not an option within the collection of English Heritage the cultural partner of this project. Additionally equipment have to move into historical houses in order to perform analysis in the right context. The use of digital image correlation to evaluate mechanical behaviour is provided by LaVision supporting this project from an industrial perspective. The considered techniques are known in their respective field but the goal is to combine their application by developing a method on-site and in laboratory to support conservator in their decisions.
Engineering and Archaeology in Construction and Conservation Work: Developing Interdisciplinary Techniques and Methodologies
This project will explore where engineering and archaeology clashes on construction projects and attempt to find better ways of collaborating in terms of technology and methodology, looking at archaeology in context, engineering techniques and their potential for development from a conservation standpoint, and Building Information Modelling (BIM) for reduction of time and cost for archaeology and to improve conservation of finds. Through case studies carried out on archaeological and engineering construction sites the project will be very industry influenced and aim to further integrate archaeology and heritage in the construction process.
The pathology of historic building materials is inextricably linked to water – either its concentration or its movement. There are a number of material characterisation techniques to determine the presence of water which are mostly point-based thus, for efficient visualisation of building pathologies, an imaging technique would be welcome. Since some salts and organisms fluoresce, their detection is possible using such techniques as LIDAR and LIF. In the Near Infrared (NIR) region, some of these compounds exhibit additional peaks, and most importantly, the water absorption peak at 1900 nm becomes clearly distinguishable. This opens the possibility for NIR hyperspectral cameras to be used to image the content of water, either in its liquid form or crystal-bound, in mortars, brick, and timber. However, for quantitative measurements, suitable illumination and calibration techniques would need to be developed. This proposal will explore new methods of quantitative NIR imaging of building material pathologies and their application to historic and newer buildings.
Integrating Spectral and 3D Imaging for Monitoring Cultural Heritage Objects
Spectral and 3D imaging techniques are used as non-destructive and portable tools to record the condition, inform the care, and increase the understanding of objects. This research will investigate an integrated approach to spectral and 3D imaging for improved monitoring of cultural heritage objects. The research aims to acquire integrated image data, increase the reproducibility and comparability, and visualise the integrated data for interpretation, hence enhance monitoring.
UCL Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering / UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage / Camlin Group / Rijksmuseum
Many art and heritage surfaces have a 3D structure which requires the object or camera to be moved in order to keep the surface in focus. Moving the objects during imaging is often difficult for conservation or practical reasons, particularly for fragile or large objects.
Current techniques to create 3D models containing hyperspectral data rely on data fusion techniques, mapping image data on to a 3D model created using different sensors and scanning techniques. This research aims to develop a new scanning technique using two hyperspectral cameras in stereo configuration to extract spatial information directly from the hyperspectral images.
For 3D objects the camera will move freely in space, maximum freedom of movement can be enabled using an articulated robotic arm which will carry both the imaging equipment and the illumination system.
Moisture is universally acknowledged as the critical factor in almost all building problems, from deterioration of the materials and structure, to difficulties with building use (such as problems with mould and “dampness”). Nevertheless, there remain fundamental gaps in our understanding of how moisture travels into and around building fabric, and most particularly in our knowledge of the way water absorbed into and evaporated from permeable porous materials, and how it moves within the pores. This project aims to investigate the uptake of moisture into masonry in relation to its existing moisture “conditions”. The project will concentrate on solid masonry walls composed of brick and mortar: although this is a complex system, we do know from long-term observation that all such walls behave in roughly similar ways, despite the differences in materials and construction.