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Solid State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance


Many oil paintings, dating from the 15th century to the present, are affected by the formation of heavy-metal carboxylates (soaps) that alter the structural integrity and appearance of the works. Through transport phenomena not yet understood, free fatty acids formed from oils used as binders migrate through the paint film and react with heavy-metal ions that are constituents of pigments and/or driers, forming metal carboxylates. The local molecular dynamics of fatty acids and metal carboxylates are factors influencing material transport in these systems. We report temperature-dependent 2H NMR spectra of palmitic acid and lead palmitate as pure materials, in cross-linked linseed oil films, and in a lead white linseed oil paint film as part of our broader research into metal soap formation. Local dynamics at the α carbon, at the terminal methyl group, and at the middle of the fatty acid chain were observed in specifically deuterated materials. Changes in the dynamic behavior with temperature were observed by the appearance of two species, a solid-like material and a liquid-like material. The relative amounts of the two phases and their deuterium NMR parameters indicate that the amount of liquid-like material and the local dynamics at that site increase with temperature. At the three locations along the chain and at all temperatures, there is a larger percentage of acyl chains of both palmitic acid and lead palmitate that are “mobile” or liquid-like in linseed oil films than there are in the pure materials. However, the percentage of liquid-like species is decreased in a lead white paint film, as compared to a linseed oil matrix. In addition, these experiments indicate that there is a larger percentage of liquid-like acyl chains of palmitic acid than of lead palmitate under identical conditions in these model paint systems.



Published Citation

Catalano, J., Murphy, A., Yao, Y., Zumbulyadis, N., Centeno, S. A., & Dybowski, C. (2018). Molecular dynamics of palmitic acid and lead palmitate in cross-linked linseed oil films: Implications from deuterium magnetic resonance for lead soap formation in traditional oil paintings. Solid State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, 89, 21-26.