IR pulsed laser light interaction with soiled cellulose and paper
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Nd:YAG laser irradiation (1064 nm) of cellulose samples does not lead to immediate nor long-term effects on mechanical properties of paper, which renders the method increasingly interesting for cleaning of historical paper artefacts. However, the technique’s usability is so far limited due to discoloration when the treated object’s surface contains carbonaceous dirt. By using diffuse-reflectance Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, size-exclusion chromatography and viscometry it is demonstrated that the distinct yellowing is accompanied by formation of ether cross-links and dehydration of the cellulose, as well as its depolymerisation. Furthermore, the origin of the discoloration is discussed and it is proposed that yellow chromophores are formed due to carbon–cellulose interactions during laser irradiation.
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