Nick studied how environmental factors, manufacturing processes, and the operation of the CRT monitor can contribute to the degradation of its materials, and he identified a number of interactions that could result in the deterioration and potential failure of electrical components on the monitor’s circuit boards. He found, for example, that migration of brominated flame-retardants, an additive within the monitor’s plastic chassis, had likely contributed to the corrosion of internal metallic components. He observed that the heat generated by the monitor’s operation was within the range known to accelerate such migration, and that resulting residues also exacerbated the impact of environmental pollutants.
Nick also found a brown, brittle, solid present on the circuit boards, which he identified as abietic acid, a principle constituent of pine rosin. Nick believes that this is explained by the use of pine-rosin flux, which would have been applied to electrical connections prior to soldering. At relatively low temperatures, pine-rosin melts into a viscous liquid. Nick found black accretions in the solidified flux that were identified as carbonized dust, which likely collected in the liquid rosin, burned, and now threaten to cause electrical shorts in nearby components. With the completion of his study, Nick hopes the issues he has identified will inform preventive strategies and help those conservators who must monitor and manage the changes TBM artworks undergo through every step of their lifecycle.
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