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Prof.ssa Ilaria Degano

Title of the PhD project:
Multi-analytical approach for the identification and characterization of historical and modern inks

Abstract of the PhD project:
The presence of inks strongly affects the conservation of manuscripts and drawings, leading to preservation issues related both to fading and paper degradation. Besides contributing to the development of appropriate conservation strategies, the identification of writing inks may also provide important insights for dating and authentication. To date, aanalytical investigation in the heritage science requires new protocols for the analysis of writing inks.
This project aims at developing an analytical strategy that enables the identification of molecular markers of both the dyes/pigments and their aging products, allowing the simultaneous access to the organic and inorganic components of an ink. For this reason, numerous historical and modern ink recipes, containing both natural and synthetic dyes, will be reproduced in the laboratory. The analysis of ink model systems (naturally or artificially aged) with spectroscopic and mass spectrometry techniques will be fundamental to understand the aging and degradation processes of these artistic materials. The study will be mainly performed through High Performance Liquid Chromatography coupled with Diode Array or mass spectrometric detectors (HPLC-DAD-MS) and Raman/SERS spectroscopy. In addition, analytical techniques never or seldom used in the analysis of writing inks will be developed and fine-tuned, as Tip-Enhanced Raman scattering (TERS) and pyrolysis coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS).
The outcomes of this project will provide useful information both for authentication and dating purposes, and for studying the light-fading mechanisms to foster the development of specific conservation conditions for inked manuscripts and artworks. At the same time, the information obtained could be valuable for directing the production of novel inks towards formulations that do not have the same issues as traditional ones.

A. Ferretti, F. Sabatini, I. Degano ∙ “A Model Iron Gall Ink: An In-Depth Study of Ageing Processes Involving Gallic Acid.” ∙ Molecules 2022, 27, 8603

Oral communications at conferences:
A. Ferretti, F. Sabatini, I. Degano ∙ “The issue of iron gall inks: optimisation of a micro-destructive method based on liquid chromatography coupled to diode array detector and tandem mass spectrometry” ∙ CHEMCH- 6th International Congress Chemistry for Cultural Heritage 2022∙ 4 July – 8 July 2022, Ravenna
A. Ferretti, I. Degano, S. Legnaioli, B. Campanella, M.P. Colombini ∙ “XIX- XX century inks: disclosing the composition and the degradation mechanism of dyes in historical collection” ∙ COLOURS 2022 – Bridging science with art: modern and contemporary artworks ∙ 14 September – 16 September 2022, Èvora

Poster communications at conferences:
F. Modugno, J. La Nasa, F. Cordella, A. Ferretti, M.P. Colombini, I. Degano ∙ “Selected ion flow tube-mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) in heritage science: non invasive VOCs profiling of natural and synthetic resins” ∙ The plastics heritage congress 2019: History, Limits and Possibilities ∙ Lisbona, 2019
A. Ferretti, F. Sabatini, I. Degano ∙ “Discovering iron gall ink recipes by liquid chromatography coupled to diode array detector and tandem mass spectrometry” ∙ CFF2022 Chemistry for the Future international conference ∙ 29 June – 1 July 2022, Pisa
A. Ferretti, J. La Nasa, I. Degano, B. Campanella, S. Legnaioli, S. Penoni, R. Pintus, C. Todaro, F. Modungo ∙ “Discovering the ink murals: multi-analytical approach for the study of “Wall Drawing #736” by Sol LeWitt”∙ 41th Dyes in History and Archeology ∙ 11 October-13 October 2022, Visby


Dipartimento di Chimica e Chimica Industriale
Department of Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry
Via G. Moruzzi, 13 - Pisa, Italy
Corso di Dottorato in Scienze Chimiche e dei Materiali
Doctoral School in Chemistry and Material Science
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