What Have We Learned?

I have had an amazing time this summer working in my research lab and gaining experience both in the technical aspects of conducting research and data analysis as well as the way a research lab is run and how projects are pursued. At the end of the research period the time came to ask the age old question, what did we learn? What sort of conclusions can be drawn from the data we gathered? As a refresher, my research was focused on making a comparison of two solvent cleaning techniques on samples of 10 year old oil paint films. One method uses straight solvent applied to the paint via a cotton swab while the other method uses a gelled form of the solvent applied to the paint via a cotton tissue. The hypothesis was that the gel-solvent method would be less invasive and more efficient than the straight solvent method.  Based on the the trends we saw once the data had been analyzed, I am pleased that the results seem to be congruent with what we expected to see, though more thorough research with more solvents and perhaps more accurate samples is needed to state definitively whether the gelled-solvent method is less invasive but as effective as the straight solvent method.

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Coming Around the Final Turn

Greetings once more from the ISC. Things in the lab have been moving forward, if rather slowly in some cases. We have been facing the inevitable issue of bottle-necking in terms of making use of the two magnets we have in our lab, for there are multiple projects which need to collect data. On top of that, we have recently discovered that the lift which allows us the vary the depths at which we are measuring during a single experiment has not been moving in accordance to the distances it is given in the software, which has slowed down all data collection as we work to correct or at ┬áleast better understand the issue. Nonetheless work progresses on the paint cleaning front. The samples which were assigned the isopropanol treatments have continued to be treated with the swab and gel techniques respectively. The double peak phenomenon exhibited by the sample which is swabbed with isopropanol could potentially be a result of isopropanol’s rapid evaporation rate, causing a peak to be observed where paint had swelled as normal, and another peak due to some isopropanol which has been trapped in the sample. The samples will continue to be treated on a regular basis and perhaps the next measurement will bring even more insight about the two peaks exhibited by the plain isopropanol.

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Time to Get Cleaning

It’s been another exciting two weeks working in the lab. Among some great bonding activities such as cheering for the US soccer team in the world cup and experimenting with liquid nitrogen ice cream flavors, work has finally begun on making new comparisons of the solvent cleaning methods. As a recap, we are comparing the effects of solvent treatment using a free solvent versus gel-solvent form on 10 year old paint samples. We had previously treated samples with methoxypropanol, and we are continuing to treat those samples on a weekly basis. This past week we began treating new samples with isopropanol. A 2% isopropanol gel was made and applied to one sample using a tissue method while another sample was swabbed with plain isopropanol. The results of the first test runs showed that the gel-solvent only penetrated to a depth of roughly 150 um, which is less than even the methoxypropanol gel. The plain isopropanol sample produced interesting results with two peaks of signal reaching further into the paint. At this time, we have not been able to explain the appearance of the two peaks, but the reason for them may become more clear as the treatment is repeated. The plan moving forward is to continue repeating the treatments on both samples on a weekly basis. Readings of the samples will be made while they are dry and wet which allows us to see the signal that results from the solvent alone once the difference of the data is taken; essentially removing any signal pertaining to the paint. Though at first glance it appears that the gel-solvent is indeed showing less signal at a more shallow depth, the repeated trials will tell us if this trend holds.

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It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

The past two weeks of research for me have been all about paint. Not yet the cleaning of, but rather the initial drying process that oil paint undergoes immediately after being created. Oil paint has two distinct drying phases the first being within a week or so of being laid on a surface in which a rapid change in its T2 values can be observed. This was the main focus of my work this week, making paint and then running a series of CPMG pulse sequence measurements at 20 um increment depths to create a profile of the paint and its signal decay and t2 values.

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Update on Comparing Solvent Cleaning Treatments Using NMR

It is hard to believe that we have already completed two weeks here in the lab, but things are moving at a steady pace and a lot of work has been done in terms of experimenting with techniques which will be used to analyze paint samples that have been treated with solvents. While not directly moving forward with cleaning techniques on paint, determining the accuracy of these data gathering techniques is crucial because we need to be certain that we can retrieve the information that we need from the data we procure.

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