Alkylophosphates as low-cost inhibitors in silver tarnishing

Pietro Calandra, Marzia Cioni, Valeria La Parola, Tilde De Caro


Tarnishing is a process taking place in silver surface causing corrosion. This is due to the presence in the atmosphere, even in small amounts, of reactive species like water, sulphidric acid and carbonyl sulphide which can be physisorbed onto the silver surface thus reacting with it. We propose the use of alkylphosphates to protect the silver surface against corrosion: the polar head group should interact with the silver surface with the formation of a thin film of opportunely oriented surfactant molecules. This would shield the silver surface from the attack of reactive agents present in the atmosphere and from the adsorption of humidity water helped by the surfactant scarce hydrophilicity. The joint Raman and XPS experiments showed the protective action exerted by dibutylphosphate or bis (2-etylhexyl) phosphate according to the different sulphidizing conditions. Our discovery deserves to be tailored in cultural heritage where silver artefacts are generally precious and inimitable objects, but also in modern microelectronics where silver joints and conductors are used.


Cultural Heritage, tarnishing, Silver, alkyl phosphates

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2019 Pietro Calandra

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.