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Volume 2019, Article ID 5376214, 20 pages
Review Article

Scanning Microscopy Techniques as an Assessment Tool of Materials and Interventions for the Protection of Built Cultural Heritage

1Laboratory of Materials Science & Engineering, School of Chemical Engineering, National Technical University of Athens, 9 Iroon Polytechniou Str., Zografou Campus, Athens 15780, Greece
2Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Mestre, (Venice), Italy
3Departamento de Sistemas Físicos, Químicos y Naturales, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, ES-41013 Seville, Spain

Correspondence should be addressed to Antonia Moropoulou; rg.autn.lartnec@luporoma

Received 3 December 2018; Accepted 26 January 2019; Published 26 February 2019

Academic Editor: Daniele Passeri

Copyright © 2019 Antonia Moropoulou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Scanning microscopy techniques have emerged as powerful scientific tools for analysing materials of architectural or archaeological interest, since the commercialization of the first scanning electron microscopy instrumentation in the early 60s. This study is aimed at reviewing and highlighting the significance of several scanning microscopy techniques employed in the protection of built heritage. The diffusion of scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy analysis (SEM-EDX) is proven to be the widest among the available scanning microscopy techniques, while transmission electron microscopy (TEM) applications are steadily present in the field of built heritage protection. The building material characterization, the weathering mechanism investigation, and the development of compatible and performing conservation materials are some major research areas where the application of the aforementioned techniques is discussed. The range of techniques, along with aspects of instrumentation and sample preparation are, also, considered.