Nanomaterials-based Microsensors for Health Monitoring of Heritage

Italy owns a very high variety of cultural assets making it unique in the world, as it is also clear from the long list of sites of inestimable value outlined by UNESCO which are based on both areas. Definitely, the maintenance of such patrimony is a big issue. Cultural heritage should be monitored, much like a patient in a hospital, for signs of degradation or imminent frailty or collapse. Even the Constitution of the Italian Republic solemnly decrees that it promotes the development of scientific and technical research and safeguards historical and artistic heritage of the Nation. However, even if the “value” of the heritage is limitless, the “cost” of such a monitoring action is not always in line with the budget available that is always compressed among too many priorities. The primary strategy to relieve budget issues of maintenance is prevention and therefore accurate monitoring. Definitely, it is significant, central and vital to developing new varieties of sensors and technologies for Health Monitoring of Heritage which can be used for the detection and inspection of artistic properties to increase their safety and reliability thus also reducing maintenance costs.

When dealing with monitoring devices to be used over structures of artistic or historic value that should be displayed to the public, the problem of removing the structures under monitoring from the display and therefore the reduction of the value of the historical or artistic site for the whole monitoring period is often considered as a negative impact.
In this framework, the project aim is focused on the development of a family of smart sensors (with the related technologies) enabling the collection of data in a remote mode, allowing the early diagnosis of heritage failures from the micro to the macroscales, unraveling the very initial stage of impact. The smart sensors will make possible to achieve the continuous monitoring of the condition of the cultural assets. These sensors will exploit nanocomposite and polymeric materials properties, together with micro and nanofabrication technologies, in order to obtain a kind of “invisible patch” that can be therefore adopted in a quasi-transparent manner and in general with a very low visual impact over the system to be monitored.

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