The Textile Conservation Centre

Dr Emma Richardson


My PhD has been a collaborative project between the Textile Conservation Centre and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The overarching focus of my research has been the application of spectroscopic analytical techniques to the study of organic polymers. The specific related research has included rapid, on-site identification of synthetic textiles at collections by near-infrared spectroscopy, and the characterisation of polyamides subject to pest control treatments.

Identification of the major synthetic polymers within textile collections has required prior collation of mid-IR and near-IR spectral libraries of reference standards. A particular objective has been in situ non-invasive analysis and this has been achieved with a fibre optic NIR probe. My work has resulted in a number of site visits and collection surveys, the outcomes of which have led to some surprises for the curators. Material identification is a necessary first step in appreciating the behaviour of an artefact and planning strategies for its preservation. The differentiation of polyamide subclasses has necessitated the more complex multivariate analysis of the spectral data. The further research on polyamide stability after thermal and freezing treatments has afforded valuable information on the physical and chemical characteristics of aged material subject to various temperature ranges. This has providing valuable information to conservators regarding the application of such remedial treatments.