Research Fellows Directory
Dr Lora Angelova
University College London
I spent the first half of my Newton Fellowship at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Cambridge, and will continue with the second half at the Materials Studies Lab within the Department of Art History at University College London. My research involves the use of basic chemistry and physics to fully characterise and understand materials used for the conservation of cultural heritage objects. Polymer gels are used by conservators to gently deliver solvents to the upper-most layers of such objects during conservation cleaning treatments. The solvents help to soften the top layers of dirt, grime, and aged/discoloured varnish, so that the conservator can remove them selectively and restore the object to an aesthetically pleasing state. Understanding how such gel systems interact with the surface, and how the gel structure affects the entrapped solvent properties is critical for controlling their activity on our treasured heritage artefacts. Additionally, gaining a better understanding of the physico-chemical properties of gel systems used in conservation can allow us to broaden their range of applications. For example, incorporating gold nanoparticles into polymer gels can help us investigate the internal structure of the system; the resultant nanoparticle-loaded gels can also be used as microsampling probes for dyes in an art work which need to be analysed by novel spectroscopic techniques. Understanding which gels limit solvent diffusion into surface layers can help us design better conservation treatment systems, while simultaneously helping us understand how and why solvents diffuse into and out of such gel systems.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)