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Monitoring metal ion leaching in oil-ZnO paint systems with a paramagnetic probe

Journal article
Authors A. Artesani
L. Binet
F. Tana
D. Comelli
L. De Nardo
Austin Nevin
N. Touati
G. Valentini
D. Gourier
Published in Microchemical Journal
Volume 151
ISSN 0026-265X
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Conservation
Language en
Subject categories Materials Chemistry


Zinc oxide (ZnO), used as a pigment since the 19th C., is highly reactive when mixed with drying oils. Indeed, the combination of metal-based pigments and drying oils may react to form metal complexes in paint, which may lead to the aggregation of metal carboxylates or soaps. Whereas the mechanism and chemistry behind metal soap formation has been studied in depth, little research has focused on the changes that affect the inorganic pigment particles. In this work, we concentrate on the first phase of these reactions and monitor the evolution of an oil-ZnO paint system through Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. By employing CuII as a paramagnetic probe, the progression of metal ion leaching from ZnO is followed through the switching of CuII from a silent tetrahedral coordination in ZnO bulk to an EPR active pseudo-octahedral coordination. Complementarily, the effective concentration of dissolved or extracted Zn and Cu is quantified through Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES). The experiment probes the spontaneous metal ion release in oil-based paint films and demonstrates that the kinetics of this phenomenon proceeds with a very steep increase in the first hours after mixing. This is followed by the saturation of the grow rate after a few days that we ascribe to the passivation of the ZnO pigment surface by carboxylate groups, which hinders the further leaching of metal ions, leading to a steady-state before the complete hardening or oxidation of the paint film. © 2019

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