Determination of early warning signs for photocatalytic degradation of titanium white oil paints by means of surface analysis

B. A. van Driel*, T. A. Wezendonk, K. J. van den Berg, P. J. Kooyman, J. Gascon, J. Dik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Titanium white (TiO2) has been widely used as a pigment in the 20th century. However, its most photocatalytic form (anatase) can cause severe degradation of the oil paint in which it is contained. UV light initiates TiO2-photocatalyzed processes in the paint film, degrading the oil binder into volatile components resulting in chalking of the paint. This will eventually lead to severe changes in the appearance of a painting. To date, limited examples of degraded works of art containing titanium white are known due to the relatively short existence of the paintings in question and the slow progress of the degradation process. However, UV light will inevitably cause degradation of paint in works of art containing photocatalytic titanium white. In this work, a method to detect early warning signs of photocatalytic degradation of unvarnished oil paint is proposed, using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Consequently, a four-stage degradation model was developed through in-depth study of TiO2-containing paint films in various stages of degradation. The XPS surface analysis proved very valuable for detecting early warning signs of paint degradation, whereas the AFM results provide additional confirmation and are in good agreement with bulk gloss reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-108
Number of pages9
JournalSpectrochimica Acta - Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy
StatePublished - Feb 5 2017


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Degradation
  • Oil paint
  • Photocatalysis
  • Titanium dioxide white
  • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Spectroscopy


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