The field of inorganic materials includes a variety of construction materials such as stone, plaster, mortar etc. Monuments, or at least their parts, often survive for many centuries. To respect the basic rule of today's preservation of monuments - the maximum effort to safeguard the memory - it is required to search for methods and means of protection or restoration that cause minimal damage to the object and that, preferably, do not replace historic materials.
At our Department, we pay great attention to the research in the area of consolidation or stone waterproofing. Recently, the research focuses on the development of new stone consolidants based on organosilane compounds. Attention is also paid to the development of new compounds for artificial stone production. Being given the fact that the use of cement-based mortars and plasters is usually not advisable, research focuses also on lime-based and hydraulic lime-based mortars modification by polymer substances. Some older works were devoted to the modification of cement mortars by the addition of polymers and to the use of these mortars for strenghtening of the reverse of transfer murals. Part of the research also deals with the use of hollow glass or ceramic microsphere fillers. These expanded mortars may be used for the preparation of light pads for transfer murals. Currently, our research focuses on the behavior of vegetable oils in stone and on the possibilities of thir removal and on the behavior of spongilite during liquid consolidants infiltration.
The organic materials that could be found in historic buildings include wood, paper, parchment, leather, textiles and many other substances used as adhesives and binders (oils, resins, proteins, polysaccharides, waxes, etc.). In addition to the natural materials in the area of restoring and preserving monuments, synthetic materials are increasingly applied in recent decades, either as original artwork material or as a supplement material or preservative. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to these materials, to their aging and to the impact on the monument original materials.
In recent years, the research is focused mainly on timber. Extensive research on consolidation of wood as well as on protective agents properties and behavior has been carried out recently.
In cooperation with the National Archives, our Department also participates in the research of archival materials - paper, parchment and leather. The research is focused mainly on de-acidification of paper, leather oiling, disinfection of archive materials etc.
Recently, we have cooperated with the restoration workshops of the Prague Castle in addressing issues of textile conservation (eg. adhesives removal). In the past, the Department conducted research on aging of oils and protein binders.
The Deparment co-operates with many restorers and professional workplaces in addressing the identification of organic (colored layer binders, coatings, adhesives etc.) and inorganic (eg. pigments) materials.
As a part of the general research, we examine the application of synthetic organic materials (consolidants, adhesives, water repellents etc.) and their impact on the monuments made of both organic and inorganic materials (stone, plaster).