Silica-Functionalized Nanolimes for the Conservation of Stone Heritage
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The relatively recent development of nanolimes (i.e., alcoholic dispersions of Ca(OH)2 nanoparticles) has paved the way for new approaches to the conservation of important art works. Despite their many benefits, nanolimes have shown limited reactivity, back-migration, poor penetration, and lack of proper bonding to silicate substrates. In this work a novel solvothermal synthesis process is presented by which extremely reactive nanostructured Ca(OH)2 particles are obtained using calcium ethoxide as the main precursor species. Moreover, it is demonstrated that this material can be easily functionalized with silica-gel derivatives under mild synthesis conditions, thereby preventing particle growth, increasing total specific surface area, enhancing reactivity, modifying colloidal behavior, and functioning as self-integrated coupling agents. Additionally, the formation of calcium silicate hydrate (CSH) nanocement is promoted by the presence of water, resulting in optimal bonding when applied to silicate substrates, as evidenced by the higher reinforcement effect produced on treated Prague sandstone specimens as compared to those consolidated with nonfunctionalized commercial nanolime. The functionalization of nanolimes is not only a promising strategy for the design of optimized consolidation treatments for the cultural heritage, but may also have important implications for the development of advanced nanomaterials for building, environmental, or biomedical applications.