The research group develops a plasma-pen to improve the adhesion qualities of plastics in contemporary art. This project sets focus on the examination of undesirable thermal and radical-chemical side effects.


  • Lead school Bern Academy of the Arts
  • Institute Institute Materiality in Art and Culture 
  • Research unit Conservation Techniques
  • Funding organisation BFH
  • Duration 01.01.2007 - 30.11.2008
  • Project management Dr. Stefan Wülfert
  • Head of project Anna Katharina Comiotto
  • Project staff Fabian Kosir
    Anna Katharina Comiotto
    Marc Egger
  • Partner Hochschule für Technik und Informatik HTI
    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Centre des Recherches en Physiques des Plasmas
    Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich


The aim is to tune the operating conditions until a minimal intervention into the artwork’s aging properties is assured, by maintaining improved adhesion qualities.

Course of action

The aging properties of plasma treated plastics (and adjacent artistic materials e.g. paint layers) are monitored by measuring changes in oxidation stability (using chemiluminescence analysis) and changes in free radical concentration (using EPR-spectroscopy). The plasma temperature is evaluated by performing IR-pyrometric measurements. Results are used to change the operating conditions to reduce the thermal load and minimize the radical / autooxidative reactions.


On tested materials (e.g. additive-free PE and an acrylic co-polymer used in artist paints) plasma-treatment affected no significant change in oxidation stability and no increase in free radical concentration. Plasma operation conditions were optimized for reducing thermal load close to room temperature. Thermal substrate damages (e.g. distortions, deformations) can now be prevented and an adhesion improvement on very thin thermoplastic substrates gets possible.