Characterization of contemporary and historical acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)-based objects: Pilot study for handheld Raman analysis in collections

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Reggio, Daniela
Saviello, Daniela
Lazzari, Massimo
Iacopino, Daniela
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Plastic materials are increasingly becoming part of private and public collections worldwide, either as design objects or artistic sculptures. The preservation of these highly degradable materials requires novel analytical approaches able to reveal their chemical composition to inform the tailoring of appropriate conservation procedures. In this work Raman spectroscopy and Surface-enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) were proposed as methods for the characterization of ABS-based contemporary and historical LEGO® objects. Twenty-three objects of twelve different colors were analyzed by handheld and benchtop Raman instrumentation. In all cases clear identification of the constituent polymer matrices (ABS, polycarbonate, poly(methyl metacrylate)) was obtained. In addition, identification of major color components was achieved, such as copper phthalocyanines in green and blue objects. Low cost handheld instrumentation provided acceptable sensitivity towards polymers and coloring media, and was found suitable for initial screening of the objects. Benchtop Raman was used to confirm and further extend identification, as well as for building background information. Finally, SERS sensitivity was found comparable to the sensitivity achieved by benchtop Raman instrumentation. However, the associated minimally-invasive sampling method made SERS a valid alternative to direct Raman spectroscopy for the analysis of immovable and/or large-sized objects. Overall, this work represents the first systematic investigation on the potential of Raman and SERS spectroscopies as methods for minimal invasive and/or in situ analysis of historical and contemporary plastic objects.
ABS , LEGO , Synthetic organic pigments (SOPs) , Surface-enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) , Raman spectroscopy , Handheld Raman , Contemporary art
Reggio, D., Saviello, D., Lazzari, M. and Iacopino, D. (2020) 'Characterization of contemporary and historical acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)-based objects: Pilot study for handheld Raman analysis in collections', Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, 242, 118733, doi: 10.1016/j.saa.2020.118733
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