Material Studies Laboratory

Lab equipment

The Material Studies Laboratory is a research and teaching facility housed within the Department of History of Art, UCL. It consists of two laboratory spaces, one dedicated to teaching and handling of materials and artifacts, with the second focusing on the instrumental analysis of heritage materials.

The laboratory is used by UCL academic and research staff, PhD students and students studying on the History of Art with Materials Studies (HAMS) programme. Visiting researchers and external collaborations are also welcome. The facility is equipped with instruments for materials characterisation, with a particular focus on mechanical properties of cultural materials. The laboratory also has portable equipment that can be used for scientific investigations on site within heritage collections.


Room 302, 20 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0AG


Dr Emma Richardson

+44 (0)20 3108 4017

Materials Library

The laboratory houses an array of reference materials pertaining to works of art and heritage artifacts, used to aid both teaching and research. The materials library includes, but is not limited to, natural and synthetic pigments, binding media, synthetic polymers, and fibres and textiles.

Materials Characterisation

The laboratory is equipped with a number of instruments for the characterisation of materials:

Analytical Instrumentation

  • Instron 5944 Single Column Tensile Tester with pneumatic grips and 2 kN and 100 N load cells
  • Perkin Elmer Dynamic Mechanical Analyser with Humidity Chamber
  • Magritek Unilateral Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) MOUSE and Kea2 NMR Spectrometer
  • Innov-X portable X-ray Fluorescence Delta Premium 4000 Spectrometer
  • DeltaNu portable Raman Rapid ID with 785 nm laser

Analytical Software

  • Thermoscientific Grams AI
  • Thermoscientific Grams Spectral ID
  • Camo Unscrambler X
  • Instron Bluehill 3
  • PerkinElmer Pyris
  • Kea Prospa
  • DeltaNu NuSpec


  • 1 x Meiji Polarized Light Microscope with transmitted and incident illumination
  • 1 x Microtec RM-1 Polarized Light Microscope with transmitted illumination
  • 2 x Microtec HM-3 Stereomicroscope with transmitted and incident illumination and a zoom range of 6.4:1
  • 2 x USB microscopes

General Laboratory Equipment

  • A&D GF-300 Analytical Balance, 310 x 0.001 g
  • Safelab Airone FC6-40 Fumehood
  • UV Lamps