Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 21, Issue 23, pp 13243–13251 | Cite as

EDS and μ-XRF mapping of amalgam degradation products in ancient mirrors

  • E. Arizio
  • E. F. Orsega
  • R. Falcone
  • M. Vallotto
Chemistry in a sustainable society


An amalgam mirror is a mirror type, used from the fifteenth century until the end of the nineteenth century, where the reflective layer is constituted by a tin amalgam layer adhered to a glass sheet. In this work, two amalgam mirrors samples were studied by scanning electron microscopy with an energy dispersive spectrometer and by micro-X-ray fluorescence elemental mapping to go deeply into the understanding of the degradation mechanism of the amalgam layer of ancient mirrors. The investigation has been focused for the first time on the reflective surface of the amalgam layer adherent to the glass sheet to better understand the processes of amalgam corrosion. The two amalgam degradation compounds, romarchite and cassiterite, has been spatially differentiated by scanning electron microscope (SEM) and energy dispersive spectrometer (EDS) maps. SEM images and micro-X-ray fluorescence and EDS maps showed that the amalgam degradation products grow up to form hemispherical stratified calottes. This structure is probably due to a mechanism involves cyclic phases and oxygen radial diffusion from a superficial oxidation nucleus.


Amalgam Mirror SEM-EDS μ-XRF Mapping Romarchite Cassiterite 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Arizio
    • 1
  • E. F. Orsega
    • 1
  • R. Falcone
    • 2
  • M. Vallotto
    • 2
  1. 1.Dept. of Molecular Sciences and NanotechnologiesCa’ Foscari University of VeniceVeniceItaly
  2. 2.Stazione Sperimentale del VetroMuranoItaly

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