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Radio-Frequency Plasma Discharge Equipment for Conservation Treatments of Paper Supports
The application of cold Radio-Frequency (RF) plasma in the conservation of cultural heritage became important in the last decades due to the positive results obtained in decontamination treatments. This paper presents an equipment especially designed for cold RF plasma application on paper documents, developed within a research project. The equipment consists in two modules: the first one is designed for decontamination and cleaning treatments of any type of paper supports, while the second one can be used for coating friable papers with adequate polymers, for protection purposes. All these operations are carried out in cold radio-frequency plasma, working in gaseous nitrogen, at low pressure. In order to optimize the equipment parameters ancient paper samples infested with microorganisms have been treated in nitrogen plasma and the decontamination effects, as well as changes in surface properties (color, pH) were assessed. The microbiological analysis revealed complete decontamination at 6 minutes treatment duration; only minor modifications of the surface pH were found and the colorimetric analysis showed a slight yellowing of the support.
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