Pigment darkening as case study of In-Air Plasma-Induced Luminescence

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Science Advances  07 Jun 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 6, eaar6228
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar6228


We introduce the use of an In-Air Plasma-Induced Luminescence (In-Air-PIL) spectroscopy as an alternative to classical chemical and crystallographic methods used in materials science. The In-Air-PIL is evaluated on a case study investigating the effect of light aging on the darkening of five pristine yellow pigments commonly used in artworks. We show that the darkening is not associated to changes in the chemical composition, but to a loss in crystallinity, indicating an amorphization process of the pigments induced and catalyzed by the light irradiation. This favors the interaction of the pigment molecules with oxygen and carbon adsorbed from the environment or solved in the binding agent, subsequently leading to the formation of oxalates and carbonates as observed in other works. We demonstrate that the In-Air-PIL results are in perfect agreement with more complex classical materials science analysis methods, making our plasma-driven method a potentially easier and faster technique.

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