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Multifunctional supramolecular polymer networks as next-generation consolidants for archaeological wood conservation.



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Walsh, Zarah 
Janeček, Emma-Rose 
Hodgkinson, James T 
Sedlmair, Julia 
Koutsioubas, Alexandros 


The preservation of our cultural heritage is of great importance to future generations. Despite this, significant problems have arisen with the conservation of waterlogged wooden artifacts. Three major issues facing conservators are structural instability on drying, biological degradation, and chemical degradation on account of Fe(3+)-catalyzed production of sulfuric and oxalic acid in the waterlogged timbers. Currently, no conservation treatment exists that effectively addresses all three issues simultaneously. A new conservation treatment is reported here based on a supramolecular polymer network constructed from natural polymers with dynamic cross-linking formed by a combination of both host-guest complexation and a strong siderophore pendant from a polymer backbone. Consequently, the proposed consolidant has the ability to chelate and trap iron while enhancing structural stability. The incorporation of antibacterial moieties through a dynamic covalent linkage into the network provides the material with improved biological resistance. Exploiting an environmentally compatible natural material with completely reversible chemistries is a safer, greener alternative to current strategies and may extend the lifetime of many culturally relevant waterlogged artifacts around the world.



Mary Rose, conservation, supramolecular polymer, waterlogged archaeological wood

Journal Title

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

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Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
European Research Council (240629)