A quick assessment of the photocatalytic activity of TiO2 pigments: From lab to conservation studio!

BA van Driel, PJ Kooyman, KJ van den Berg, A Schmidt-Ott, J Dik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Titanium dioxide is the most abundantly used white pigment of the 20th century. The pigment is still in use, both in the production of contemporary art and for the conservation of older artwork as a retouching pigment. Unfortunately, next to its positive characteristics, the pigment has one major potential drawback: its photocatalytic activity that can cause degradation of artworks in which it is used. In this paper, we report on a new method to test the photocatalytic activity of different quality grades of titanium dioxide white pigments. This can be done quantitatively in a chemical lab or qualitatively in a quick and easy way, in a museum or artists' studio, with limited use of lab equipment. The photocatalytic degradation of an organic dye, acid blue 9, in an aqueous solution containing titanium dioxide, is followed over time by means of UV–Vis spectrophotometry. Dye solutions containing pigments with high photocatalytic activity lose their color within several hours of UVA exposure. On the other hand, dye solutions containing UV-stable titanium dioxide do not degrade within 24 h of UVA exposure. Insight in the photocatalytic activity of titanium white pigments, which can be obtained with this novel test, is of great importance for preventive conservation of modern art.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-171
JournalMicrochemical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • TiO2
  • Photocatalytic activity
  • Dye degradation
  • Paint
  • Titanium white
  • Acid blue 9


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