9.03.2008

notes from the lab: sublime cyclododecane

i met a new chemical marvel at work about a month ago:

!CYCLODODECANE!

(here, it's easier to read this way: cyclo do decane)

since various web sites and published papers have already explained about this little buddy in all its complexity (just google it and check out the JAIC and consdist list pages), i'll keep it simple.

Cyclododecane is an alicyclic hydrocarbon.....uh...that is, it's a neutral substance. that is a wax-like solid at room temperature. it's non-toxic. and insoluble in water. which is the key, because we used it to keep some inks from getting wet and bleeding during aqueous treatments. a.k.a as a fixative for water sensitive stuff.

it's most thrilling property--it sublimes. which means, it volatilizes from a solid directly to a gas in normal room temperature. so you can use it as a consolidant and fixative, and in a few weeks time it's gone all by itself, damaging nothing.

so here's what we did. there was a sticker on a paper that we needed to remove. in water. but this sticker had a suspect ink we wanted to keep from bleeding onto the document. so. we melted the cyclododcane (melts at 35-65 degrees C) and dripped it over the problem ink. we dunked it all in a bath, removed the sticker, and hung it all to dry.

i took the sticker with the remaining gob of cyclododecane (more of a glob than was necessary, btw) and this is what it looked like on August 4.


on August 7th

August 12th

August 15th

August 21st

and finally, September 2nd......

after one month, the subliming is complete!


cyclododecane's usefulness reaches beyond this, as does the complexity of the chemistry beyond it, but mostly i found it very satisfying to work with such a sublime substance that helps without damage and takes care of itself.

1 comment:

Paula said...

cyclododecane and bid
two things sublime