Lucia Melita


Lucia is responsible for the laser cleaning project. Working closely with conservators, she is assessing the suitability of Er:YAG and Nd:YAG lasers and evaluating their short and long-term effects on museum objects for the removal of a range of materials such as dirt and (aged) synthetic and natural polymeric coatings or adhesives.

Lucia received her PhD in Materials Science from University College London, which focused on the synthesis of nanomaterials and the assessment of their application on organic materials. She predominantly focused on collagen and cellulose-based materials, using a variety of techniques such as FTIR, SEM-EDX, microCT, XRD, TEM, OCT, AFM and TGA. She also took part in EU-funded projects on the development of new materials for Cultural Heritage Conservation. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Conservation Science, specialising in Chemistry and Nanotechnologies.

Before joining the British Museum, Lucia participated in a project directed to understand the relationship between moisture sorption and degradation of cellulose acetate in archival film materials, using primarily DMA and portable unilateral NMR.

Lucia is interested in the characterisation of heritage materials and the assessment of the long and short-term effects of conservation practices. This includes the understanding of changes in properties and degradation processes associated to environmental conditions and ageing.  Additional interests are preventive conservation and the study of polymeric materials in modern and contemporary heritage.

Current projects

The investigation and application of lasers

Previous projects

Cellulose Derivatives and their Environmental Response. 2018, Material Studies laboratory, Department of History of Art, University College London.

Application of OCT for the non-invasive examination of archaeological bone and ivory and for the monitoring of consolidation procedures with nanoparticles. 2014 – 2016. University College London

Deacidification of easel paintings with nanoparticles: evaluation of their effect on 19th century acidified canvases. 2016, University College London, Brikbeck College, University of Palermo and Tate.

Horizon 2020 EU-project NANORESTART: Nanocellulose for the strengthening of canvases in modern and contemporary art. 2015 – 2016, University College London..

FP7 EU-project NanoforART. 2012 – 2014: Nanoparticles for the deacidifcation of paper, canvas and pH adjustment of parchment and leather. 2012 – 2014. Centre for Colloid and Surface Science (CSGI), Dept. of Chemistry, University of Florence (2012) and University College London (2012 – 2014).

Calcium hydroxide nanoparticles for the consolidation of wall paintings. 2011 Centre for Colloid and Surface Science (CSGI), Dept. of Chemistry, University of Florence.

Non-invasive investigation of Agnolo Bronzino’s drawings by FTIR, XRF and multispectral imaging. 2009 Centre for Colloid and Surface Science (CSGI), Dept. of Chemistry, University of Florence, Department of Prints and Drawings, Uffizi Gallery and Laboratorio di diagnostica applicate ai Beni Culturali CR.Forma (Cremona, Italy).

External fellowships/ honorary positions/ membership of professional bodies

Member of International Council of Museums (ICOM)

Member of Institute of Conservation (ICON)

Member of Society of Electron Microscope Technology (SEMT)

Member of Royal Microscopical Society (RMS)

Member of European Microscopy Society (EMS)

Member of Associazione Nazionale degli Esperti di Diagnostica e di Scienze e Tecnologia Applicate ai Beni Culturali (ANEDbc)

Recent publications

Melita L.N. and Chillè C., Bridarolli A., Hackney S., Giorgi R., Baglioni P., Fernandez F., Odlyha M., Bozec L. (2016) “Nano-dispersions for deacidification of painting canvases”. In YOCOCU 2016 International Conference, organized by MNCARS, Geosciences Institute (CSIC-UCM) and YOCOCU Spain, from September 21th to September 23th, 2016.

Al-Azri K., Melita L.N., Strange A.P., Festy F., Al-Jawad M., Cook R., Parekh S., Bozec L. (2016). “Optical coherence tomography use in the diagnosis of enamel defects” Journal of Biomedical Optics 21 (3).

Poggi G., Toccafondi N., Melita L.N., Knowles J.C., Bozec L., Giorgi R., Baglioni P. (2014). "Calcium hydroxide nanoparticles for the conservation of Cultural Heritage: new formulations for the deacidification of cellulose-based artifacts." Applied Physics A 114(3): 685-693.

Odlyha M., Bozec L., Bartoletti A., Melita L.N., Larsen R., Muhlen Axelsson K., Dahlin E., Grontoft T., Baglioni P., Giorgi R., Chelazzi D., Bergerat R. (2014). “Damage assessment of parchment at the collagen fibril level using atomic force microscopy and mechanical testing at the macro level”. In ICOM-CC 17th Triennial Conference Preprints, Melbourne, 15–19 September 2014, ed. J. Bridgland, art. 0607, 7 pp. Paris: International Council of Museums. (ISBN 978-92-9012-410-8).

Manickavasagam A., Hirvonen L.M., Melita L.N., Chong E.Z., Cook R.J., Bozec L., Festy F. (2014). "Multimodal optical characterisation of collagen photodegradation by femtosecond infrared laser ablation" Analyst 139, 6135-6143