The physical and chemical properties of paper depend on the raw materials and the modes of production historically used. Paper, which most likely appeared in China in the 2nd c BC, underwent modifications of the manufacture technology according to its progressive expansion towards the Western world from the 8th c. AD. With the transformation from traditional paper mill production to modern industrial papermaking, the technological innovations of the 19th c had a significant socio-economic impact. However, these improvements were often detrimental to the stability and durability of the material, mostly due to the use of wood as raw material in replacement of rags. As opposed to contemporary industrial papers, which are generally more durable, papers of that period, highly lignified and most often sized with alum-rosin, usually are in a very poor conservation state.
Durability of cellulosic materials and longevity of paper, modern and historic, are major concerns for the preservation of graphic and written cultural heritage. Our research activities cover two main topics, upstream issues related to a better understanding of heritage cellulosic materials, and in particular the study of the physico-chemical degradation processes occurring during natural and artificial ageing, and problems downstream linked to the environment of the collections and the development of preservation strategies through novel preventive and curative treatment processes. These research activities involve the development of analytical methodologies applicable to heritage materials and objects to provide precise and new information on the degradation processes and the levels of deterioration.
Characterisation of paper degradation
Impact of conservation and exhibition environments on heritage cellulosic objects
New long-term preservation technologies
Development of microdestructive analytical methods applicable to paper documents