SEAHA Centre for Doctoral Training


Ida Ahmad

PhD Student, University College London

Project Title 

Mathematical modelling of polymer degradation in cellulose acetate and cellulose nitrate artefacts

Background & Summary of Project

Cellulose acetate and cellulose nitrate are semi-synthetic polymers found in early plastics. In cultural heritage collections, they are represented in wide-ranging contexts from fashion (textiles, hair combs) to archives (cinematographic films, microfilms and photographic films) and fine art (works by Naum Gabo, László Moholy-Nagy and Antoine Pevsner). My project investigates how environmental and endogenous factors affect changes in the polymer molecules over time, contributing to the types of damage observed in museum collections. I develop mathematical models of degradation processes, proposing deterministic and stochastic dynamic models based on scientific theories of the underlying chemical and physical phenomena. The theoretical research draws on experimental data in the literature and generated by European research project COMPLEX.



Ida R.Ahmad, Deborah Cane, Joyce Townsend, Cristian Triana, Luca Mazzei, Katherine Curran, Are we overestimating the permanence of cellulose triacetate cinematographic films? A mathematical model for the vinegar syndrome, Polymer Degradation and Stability 172 (2019)