Hydrogel for Damage-Free Tape Removal

Hydrogel for Damage-Free Tape Removal

Author: Charlotte Koschnick

Adhesive tapes are widely used in conservation, restoration, and securing of paper artworks such as paintings and historic manuscripts. Unfortunately, these tapes undergo a complex degradation process over time leading to the formation of dark, oily by-products that can discolor and damage the underlying material. Current methods to remove the adhesive are often difficult and destructive. Consequently, there is great interest in non-destructive methods to remove these adhesive tapes from artifacts of historic importance.

Piero Baglioni, University of Florence, Italy, and colleagues have developed a semi-interpenetrating p(HEMA)/PVP (2-Hydroxyethyl methacrylate/poly(vinylpyrrolidone)) hydrogel network loaded with a microemulsion of EAPC (ethyl acetate, propylene carbonate). The hydrogel containes a suspension of EAPC droplets that are approximately 13 nm long ellipsoids which act as an organic solvent. The confinement of the organic solvent within the continuous water phase permitted controlled penetration of the solvent into the adhesive and prevented spreading into the underlying support. Further, the highly connected hydrogel prevented lateral diffusion of the liquid phase across the substrate.

When applied to the surface of an adhesive, the hydrogel penetrated the adhesive facilitating removal without damaging the surface of the artifact. This technique shows great promise in art restoration and, beyond this, could be useful in cleaning very sensitive scientific instruments.


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