Advancement in surface treatments and analyses in the field of conservation science


Volpi Francesca Volpi

Francesca Volpi

Department of Musicology and Cultural Heritage, University of Pavia, Italy

Lankani Weththimuni Maduka Lankani

Weththimuni Maduka Lankani

Department of Chemistry, University of Pavia, Italy

Fiocco Giacomo Fiocco

Giacomo Fiocco

Arvedi Laboratory of Non-invasive Diagnostics, CISRiC, University of Pavia, Italy


Heritage objects, such as artifacts, sculptures, paintings, and even historical buildings, are symbols of historical or artistic significance with the outstanding universal value from the aesthetic or cultural point of view. However, they are affected by degradation processes and aging due to physical and chemical factors including the presence of water, which is one of the most deteriorating factors, especially for porous materials (wood, paper, textile, and stone). In addition, environmental agents (air pollution, solar radiation, and temperature variation) and microorganism colonization are frequently related to the decay of the external surface of heritage items. In fact, the protection of the surface of heritage materials has become a necessity in a lot of countries, because effective protection and maintenance not only help in preserving and safeguarding resources, but also in revitalizing local economies, and in bringing about a sense of identity, pride, and belonging to residents. However, studying and operating on heritage manufacts poses increasing challenges for science too. Advanced materials have been developed and tested as surface treatment agents for protecting, cleaning, and restoring artifacts. At the same time, numerous new analytical techniques have been involved for identifying the constituents of a work of art, monitoring conservation treatments, or characterizing degradation products.


Research areas may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • New materials and methods for surface cleaning;
  • New materials for surface protection;
  • Durability assessment of protective treatments;
  • Novel analytical approaches of surface characterization.


Francesca Volpi is a Researcher in Chemistry applied to Cultural Heritage at the Department of Musicology and Cultural Heritage at the University of Pavia since 2022. In 2017 she gained a PhD in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Bologna developing novel biopolymer green gels for the cleaning of artworks and advanced micro-invasive analytical methods to evaluate the cleaning efficacy. In 2017 she worked at the CNR-ISAC in Bologna in the environmental field, and in 2018-2020 she was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of New York in the department of Scientific Research researching new analytical techniques to assess the degradation of cellulose affected by VOCs. Since 2021, when she joined the University of Pavia as a postdoctoral researcher, she has been involved in the development of new gel products for cleaning artworks and non-invasive spectroscopic techniques. She is a member of the Italian Chemists Society (SCI) Cultural Heritage and Environmental Division.

Weththimuni Maduka Lankani is a Postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Chemistry, University of Pavia, Italy, where she completed her research doctorate (PhD) in Chemistry (Materials Science-Nanomaterials, and Inorganic Chemistry) in 2013. She achieved more than twelve (12+) consecutive years of research experience in the field of Materials Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, and Conservation Science. During this period, she has gained excellent knowledge of synthesis and characterization of nanoparticles, doped and functionalized nanomaterials, nanocomposites, polymers, metal complexes, and gel materials, applying for different purposes (making thin films as protective coatings, and consolidation and restoration of wood and stone artifacts, water purification, and sensors). Furthermore, she started her career as an assistant lecturer (Chemistry) after successfully completing her special Degree in Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka in 2008, where she has conducted many Chemistry lectures, laboratory practical classes, and examinations for undergraduate students. She is a Member of Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC), member of Italian Chemical Society (Società Chimica Italiana), and lifetime Associate member of the Institute of Chemistry, Ceylon since 2008. Moreover, she has several memberships of International Journals: Editorial Board Member of the International Journal of Advanced and Applied Science, Topical Advisory Panel Member of Coatings, and Polymers, MDPI.

Giacomo Fiocco is a postdoctoral researcher and the research activities supervisor at the Arvedi Laboratory of Non-Invasive Diagnostics of the University of Pavia. He graduated in 2015 in Science and Technology for Cultural Heritage at the University of Turin, where he also completed his PhD in Chemistry and Materials Science in 2021. He specialises in the application of non- and micro-invasive spectroscopic and imaging techniques for the study of cultural heritage, with a particular focus on the materials of musical instruments. He is currently a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Experts in Diagnostics, Science and Technology applied to Cultural Heritage (ANEDbc), and an ordinary member of the Italian Chemical Society (SCI) and Italian Association of Archaeometry (AIAr). In 2022 he won the prize for the best young researcher in the field of archaeometry awarded by AIAr.




University of South Florida
Roma Tre Scienze
Dipartimento Roma Tre