Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) can be successfully applied to a wide number of organic, inorganic, and hybrid materials regarding cultural heritage. High-resolution solid-state NMR provides information on the structure of materials, and portable NMR devices allow non-destructive and non-invasive in situ investigation of variably sized objects. This result is possible by combining open magnets and surface radiofrequency coils to generate a sensitive volume external to the sensor and inside the object under investigation. In this paper we focus on the application of NMR to investigate inorganic porous materials such as pottery, plasters, and stones from cultural heritage sites.
27Al MAS and 3QMAS, and 29Si MAS high-resolution solid-state NMR along with spectral deconvolution allowed for the investigation of the chemical structure of ancient pottery. Portable unilateral NMR was used to investigate, in a non-invasive and non-destructive way, the porous structure of pottery.
The effect of protective-consolidating treatments on plaster was carefully investigated by 1H NMR depth profiles that allowed for scanning with micrometric resolution of plaster specimens. Changes occurring in the total open porosity after treatments were also evaluated.
NMR diffusion measurements provided information on the restricted geometry of the porous structure of two types of biocalcarenite and tuff. A suitable processing of collected data enabled us to define the average pore radius and pores’ interconnection in these materials.