Applied Physics A

, Volume 117, Issue 4, pp 2025–2032 | Cite as

Micro-layers of polystyrene film preventing metal oxidation: implications in cultural heritage conservation

  • Francesca Giambi
  • Emiliano Carretti
  • Luigi Dei
  • Piero Baglioni


Protection of surfaces directly exposed to the detrimental action of degradative agents (i.e. oxygen, air pollutants and bacteria) is one of the most important challenges in the field of conservation of works of art. Metallic objects are subjected to specific surface corrosion phenomena that, over the years, make mandatory the research of innovative materials that should avoid the direct contact between the metal surface and the weathering agents. In this paper, the set-up, characterisation and application of a new reversible material for preserving metal artefacts are reported. Micro-layers constituted of low-adhesive polystyrene (PS) films obtained from recycling waste packaging materials made of expanded PS were studied. The morphology and thickness of PS films were characterised by optical, atomic force and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). A further check on thickness was carried out by means of visible spectrophotometry doping the films with a hydrophobic dye. Thermal properties of the PS micro-layers were studied by means of differential scanning calorimetry coupled with optical microscopy. Permeability of the PS films to water vapour was also determined. The potential of the low-adhesive PS films, that enabled an easy removal in case of film deterioration, for preventing metal oxidation was investigated on brass specimens by simulating standard artificial corrosion programmes. Morphological and chemical (coupling the energy-dispersive X-rays spectrometry to SEM measurements) analyses carried out on these metal samples showed promising results in terms of surface protection against corrosion.


Water Vapour Permeability Toluene Solution Metal Artefact White Spirit Expanded Polystyrene 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thanks are due to Drs. Filippo Gambinossi and Massimo Bonini for assistance during the collection of SEM and AFM images. Consorzio interuniversitario per lo sviluppo dei Sistemi a Grande Interfase (CSGI), University of Florence (Fondi dAteneo ex-60 %), Regione Toscana PAR-FAS 2007–2013 Project S.I.C.A.M.O.R. are acknowledged for financial support.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (pdf 5122 KB)
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesca Giambi
    • 1
  • Emiliano Carretti
    • 1
  • Luigi Dei
    • 1
  • Piero Baglioni
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry “Ugo Schiff” and CSGI ConsortiumUniversity of FlorenceSesto FiorentinoItaly

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