Synchrotron light reveals why modernist stained glass deteriorate

Stained glass is a fragile component of our Cultural Heritage since was used for the windows of buildings, and a large part of it is exposed to weathering and consequently to deterioration. The concern raised regarding the decay shown by the modernist enamelled glass has led the path to a long-term study and to the thesis presented today by Martí Beltrán González. “We are satisfied because totally new information have been obtained and, in particular, data that may help to better preserve the enamelled glass windows of this period ”, highlights Trinitat Pradell, director of the thesis.

Synchrotron light has important applications in the field of historical and artistic heritage and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) group has been an ALBA user for years to carry out analyses for its research. In this case, the beamline where the experiments have been performed, MSPD, provides the use of microdiffraction technique. Stained glass samples cut into very thin sections (100 microns) have been analysed through X-rays to obtain high resolution diffraction patterns that give information about the chemical composition of the materials and enables the identification of the pigments and colorants used. The microstructure of the materials and the products formed as a result of corrosion can be detected too thanks to this synchrotron light technique.

Read more on the ALBA website

Image: Modernist stained glass from Museu d’Art de Cerdanyola (Les Dames de Cerdanyola) by L. Dietrich, 1888–1910, showing the characteristic green and blue enamels decay

Credit: Jordi Bonet