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Chemistry and Biochemistry

Featured Research

Dr. Michael Samide

My current research interests are focused on the intersection of chemistry and art conservation science. In 2014, I began a partnership with the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields (the IMA) to perform research on materials used for the storage and display of artwork. It turns out that the volatile chemicals emitted from many construction and display materials can have a deleterious impact on artwork, causing damage that may not be reversible. By understanding the emission profile of materials and through the development of modern and rapid methods of assessment, we can minimize damage to artwork and work to preserve these objects of our cultural heritage. While work with the IMA is on-going, new partnerships are being formed with scientists throughout the world. One current project allows students to partner with the conservation science staff at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. In this collaboration, we are exploring different methods to learn how volatile pollutants might impact collections on paper. 

While this kind of preventive conservation is essential to minimizing risk to the art objects, we are also working on methods to repair damage on artwork. In this restorative conservation, we are working with Raman spectrometer and using focused laser light to photochemically convert darkened pigment back to a white pigment. Basic lead white has been used as a pigment for centuries and until the discovery of zinc white and titanium white, was the choice of artists who wanted a pure white color. Unfortunately, sulfur pollution common from oil lamps and coal fires converts lead white into black or brown lead sulfide. Using the focused laser, we are attempting to develop a unique treatment procedure to convert the lead sulfide to lead sulfate, which is another more stable white pigment. In this way we provide a new tool that can help conservators restore the damaged artwork with pinpoint accuracy. 

Students are an essential element in my research activities. We have lab space at Butler dedicated to study the impact pollutants have on paper collections. Students regularly travel the short distance to the IMA and work on instrumentation and equipment with professional conservation scientists and conservators. Our efforts have been fruitful and we have a number of publications in conservation science journals and have presented the results of our work at national and international conferences. 

Dr. Samide

Dr. Samide is adding liquid nitrogen to a microjet cryotrap connected to the chromatograph. This allows him to effectively detect and analyze very volatile organic molecules. 

Dr. Samide

Dr. Samide is ready to connect a sample holder onto a temperature-controlled inlet oven. In this way, he is able to desorb volatile organic compounds directly into the chromatograph for analysis. 

Dr. SamideDr. Samide studies white pigment on a souvenir painting using the Raman spectometer and a green 532n laser.


Dr. Jeremy Johnson

An article by Dr. Jeremy Johnson and Dr. Erik Larsen was featured on Drug Development Research special issue volume 80, number 1, on overcoming antibiotic resistance.