SEAHA Centre for Doctoral Training


Dáire Browne

DPhil student, University of Oxford

Project Title 

Breathing stones - Developing laser spectroscopic methods to study moisture and pollutant gas uptake and release by historic limestone in polluted urban environments

Background & Summary of Project

I have just completed a Masters in Chemistry, during which I investigated the applications of physical chemistry to heritage science in association with the Bodleian Library. Many important heritage buildings, monuments and sculptures in historic cities are constructed of limestone which is prone to deteriorate in polluted atmospheric conditions. Understanding moisture relations at the surface of limestone is fundamental both to understanding the reactions involved in limestone deterioration and to judging the success of conservation treatments. This project aims at addressing the lack of high resolution, near-surface methods to monitor the movements of pollutant gases and water vapour into and out of stone surfaces and how identify they are affected by conservation treatments.



Browne, Dáire, Peverall, Robert, Ritchie, Grant A. D and Viles, Heather A. (2022). Determining Water Transport Kinetics in Limestone by Dual-Wavelength Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy. Analytical Chemistry 94(7): 3126-3134.