Conservation Research and Development

Instrumental analysis in conservation science, especially identification of pigments and binder materials



Conservation-related IR spectra

(Old page)

In this page a selection of IR spectra of various paint and coating materials registered at UT Institute of Chemistry and UT Testing Centre can be found. The spectra have been acquired over the last couple of years in the course of various projects on historic, industrial and construction paints and coatings.

Research Results


Diagenetic fate of bioapatite in linguliform brachiopods: multiple apatite phases in shells of Cambrian lingulate brachiopod Ungula ingrica (Eichwald). LETHAIA 2016, 49, 13-27

Cross sections of shells of the Furongian lingulate brachiopod Ungula ingrica from Estonia were studied using the Attenuated Total Reflectance - Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) microspectroscopic and energy dispersive spectroscopic (EDS) mapping. For the first time it was shown that different structural laminae of the shell have different chemical compositions. Compact laminae are rich in PO43-, Na, Mg and poor in F and Ca. Porous (baculate) laminae are rich in carbonate anions, Ca and F, but contain less Na and Mg. The ATR-FTIR spectra show further differences in the nu(2) carbonate region, where the IR band at 872 cm(-1) in compact laminae is replaced by a strong band at 864 cm(-1) in baculate laminae. The changes in shell apatite suggest different origins of the apatite phases. Compact laminae are likely chemically less altered and could potentially carry more reliable palaeoenvironmental or geochemical information than the apatite in baculate laminae, which is mostly authigenic in its origin.

ATR-FTIR spectroscopy and quantitative multivariate analysis of paints and coating materials. Spectrochim. Acta Part A 2014, 133, 207-213

The applicability of ATR-FTIR spectroscopy with partial least squares (PLS) data analysis was evaluated for quantifying the components of mixtures of paint binding media and pigments, and alkyd resins. PLS methods were created using a number of standard mixtures. Validation and measurement uncertainty estimation was carried out. Binary, ternary and quaternary mixtures of several common binding media and pigments were quantified, with standard measurement uncertainties in most cases below 3 g/100 g. Classes of components aromatic anhydrides and alcohols - used in alkyd resin synthesis were also successfully quantified, with standard uncertainties in the range of 2-3 g/100 g. This is a more demanding application because in alkyd resins aromatic anhydrides and alcohols have reacted to form a polyester, and are not present in their original forms.

ATR-FT-IR spectroscopy in the region of 550-230 cm-1 for identification of inorganic pigments

(presentation given at the ACS Spring meeting 2011 in Anaheim, CA)

An analytical method for recording ATR-FT-IR spectra of inorganic pigments in the low wavenumber range (550-230 cm-1) is presented. Due to the nature of the ATR phenomenon poor-quality spectra are generally obtained from pure pigments. For obtaining good-quality spectra the pigments are mixed with linseed oil matrix and spectra are recorded from the mixtures. It is demonstrated on the example of 47 inorganic pigments widely used in historical paintings that this spectral range, essentially devoid of absorption peaks of the common binder materials, can be well used for identification of inorganic pigments in paint samples. This markedly extends the possibilities of pigment identification/confirmation by ATR-IR spectroscopy. In some cases the method can be used alone for pigment identification and in many cases it provides useful additional evidence for pigment identification using other instrumental techniques. Several case studies of pigment identification of real paint samples using the developed method are presented.

ATR-FT-IR spectroscopy in the region of 550–230cm−1 for identification of

inorganic pigments
Spectrochim. Acta Part A 2010

A comprehensive study of ATR-FT-IR spectra of 40 inorganic pigments of different colours widely used in historical paintings has been carried out in the low wave number spectral range (550–230cm−1). The infrared spectra were recorded from mixtures of pigment and linseed oil. It is demonstrated that this spectral range – essentially devoid of absorption peaks of the common binder materials – can be well used for identification of inorganic pigments in paint samples thereby markedly extending the possibilities of pigment identification/confirmation by ATR-IR spectroscopy into the realm of pigments having no absorptions in the mid-IR region. The paper contains a collection of reference IR spectra of pigments that is expected to be a useful reference for conservation practitioners.

ATR-FT-IR spectroscopy in the region of 500–230cm−1 for identification of inorganic red pigments
Spectrochim. Acta Part A 2009

Paper about a method of pigment determination by low wavenumber ATR-FT-IR spectra (wavenumber region between ), applied to red pigments (red lead, cinnabar, cadmium lead, different ochres). All investigated pigments absorb IR radiation in the range of 500-230 cm-1 and can be identified.

Determination of iron in ink writing by SEM-EDS
Microchimica Acta 2008

Determination of iron in ink writing on paper manuscripts using electron probe microanalysis (SEM-EDS). Novel calibration approach is introduced. Detailed analysis of uncertainty sources and their quantification is done.

Conservation and restoration of the Jaani church

The conservation and restoration of the historic Jaani church in Tartu. Final report of the project.

Conservation and Preservation of Parchment Collection in Estonian Historical Archives

Master thesis of Eve Keedus (in Estonian)

Historic mortars

Master thesis of Herki Helves (in Estonian)

Paberi struktuuri muutuste uurimine oksüdeerijate ja redutseerijate toimel paberi pleegitamise protsessis

Master thesis of Jaan Lehtaru (in Estonian)



Training of Conservators and restaurers at University of Tartu

An overview about training conservation specialists at University of Tartu

Last modified:  28.02.2016

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