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Electronic paramagnetic resonance power saturation of wooden samples

  • Authors: Brai, M; Longo, A; Maccotta, A; Marrale, M
  • Publication year: 2009
  • Type: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • Key words: EPR, wooden samples
  • OA Link:


The deterioration of wood used for artifacts of artistic interest involves the production of different free radicals from the macromolecules of the wooden matrix (cellulose, lignin, and hemicellulose). Among the techniques able to provide information about these free radicals, the contribution of electronic paramagnetic resonance (EPR) can be very valuable. In this paper, the study of EPR signals (with g 2) of both modern and ancient wooden taxa was undertaken in order to analyze some features of the free radicals in natural wood. In particular, we have studied the microwave power saturation behaviors of seasoned wooden samples from ten species, and we have found remarkable differences between softwoods and hardwoods. These differences can be correlated to dissimilarities in the relaxation times T1 and T2 attributable to the different microscopic structures of the two trees' categories. The method has been also applied to ancient woods belonging to works of art in order to assess the conservation state of these artifacts. The analysis of the saturation curves has been found to be sensitive to the wood decay state. Indeed the deterioration process of the wooden matrix involves a variation of the relaxation times; this could be ascribed to both possible structure modifications and to concentration increments of the free radicals inside ancient woods due to decay induced by natural (biological, chemical, and physical) agents. This analysis method seems to be promising for the characterization of the wooden decay state and, therefore, it could provide valuable diagnostic indications which are necessary for the restoration and conservation of many artifact of historical-artistic-archaeological interest.