One of the most common deterioration problems affecting cultural heritage worldwide is crystallization damage caused by an interplay between salts, environmental changes and material properties. Especially porous materials are susceptible to salt crystallization. It threatens artworks such as sculptures, ceramics, frescoes, paintings, archeological objects and buildings in museums as well as outdoor environments. Most of these artworks are made of an assembly of layered materials with different physicochemical properties. Additional layers of material are sometimes added as conservation measures. The properties of all materials involved and the interfaces between these materials affect the artwork’s susceptibility to deterioration.
Much progress has been made in recent years to understand the impact of salt crystallization in single materials. In the more realistic scenario of multiple materials, many questions remain unanswered related to the interfaces between material layers.
Within the CRYSTINART consortium, we aim to develop an integrated approach for modelling and analysis of the decay of artworks due to salt crystallization in layered materials. We will combine experimental, theoretical and numerical studies at the micro-scale to model the interaction between salt crystallization and mechanical response at the interface regions of layered materials. We will translate this information to what happens on the macro-scale, and develop effective predictive and user-friendly tools that describe macroscopic material behaviour for a broad range of artefact types. This enables the prediction of damage scenarios for layered materials in artworks. We aim to develop new conservation strategies based on these predictions, and make them internationally available.
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