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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2020

8. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry techniques for the characterisation of organic materials in works of art

From the book Chemical Analysis in Cultural Heritage

  • Ken Sutherland


The power of GC/MS to resolve, characterise and quantify complex mixtures of organic compounds with high sensitivity has made it an indispensable analytical tool to address detailed questions about the chemical constituents of works of art. This paper provides an overview of the technique and its particular suitability to material studies of art and historical artefacts, and reviews its diverse research applications concerning the organic composition of artists’ and conservation materials. Options with regard to sample preparation by chemical derivatisation, pyrolysis techniques, and methods for the analysis of volatile organic compounds are discussed, as well as various approaches to the treatment and interpretation of data. The greatest value is gained from GC/MS when it is used as a complementary technique, informed by and in synergy with other methods of analysis.

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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