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Multifunctional supramolecular polymer networks as next-generation consolidants for archaeological wood conservation

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journal contribution
posted on 21.02.2019, 13:48 by Z Walsh, E-R Janeček, JT Hodgkinson, J Sedlmair, A Koutsioubas, DR Spring, M Welch, CJ Hirschmugl, C Toprakcioglu, JR Nitschke, M Jones, OA Scherman
The preservation of our cultural heritage is of great importance to future generations. Despite this, significant problems have arisen with the conservation of waterlogged wooden artifacts. Three major issues facing conservators are structural instability on drying, biological degradation, and chemical degradation on account of Fe3+-catalyzed production of sulfuric and oxalic acid in the waterlogged timbers. Currently, no conservation treatment exists that effectively addresses all three issues simultaneously. A new conservation treatment is reported here based on a supramolecular polymer network constructed from natural polymers with dynamic cross-linking formed by a combination of both host-guest complexation and a strong siderophore pendant from a polymer backbone. Consequently, the proposed consolidant has the ability to chelate and trap iron while enhancing structural stability. The incorporation of antibacterial moieties through a dynamic covalent linkage into the network provides the material with improved biological resistance. Exploiting an environmentally compatible natural material with completely reversible chemistries is a safer, greener alternative to current strategies and may extend the lifetime of many culturally relevant waterlogged artifacts around the world.


This work was supported by an European Research Council Starting Investigator Grant [Aqueous Supramolecular Polymers and Peptide Conjugates in Reversible Systems (ASPiRe), Grant 240629], a Next Generation fellowship provided by the Walters-Kundert Charitable Trust, an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council PhD stipend for E.-R.J., and the Mary Rose Trust. Part of this work is based on research conducted at the Infrared Environmental Imaging (IRENI) beamline whose construction and development was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) Award MRI-0619759. This work was supported by NSF Grant CHE-1112433. The Synchrotron Radiation Center is primarily funded by the University of Wisconsin–Madison, with supplemental support from facility users and the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. This research was supported in part by the US Forest Service and Forest Products Laboratory (Madison, WI).



Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014, 111 (50), pp. 17743-17748

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Chemistry


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