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1) (chemistry) Occurs when one substance penetrates into another. Absorption may be due to capillary action, solubility, or chemical attraction. For example, absorption occurs when sorbents are used to remove unwanted gases from the air, when a blotter is used to take up excess solvent and when a low viscosity consolidant wicks into a stone. An often confused term, Adsorption, refers to the adherence of one substance to the surface of another. It is a surface phenomenon while absorption involves penetration of one material into the matrix of another.

2) (physics) Occurs when electromagnetic energy, such as heat or light, strikes a substance and is retained. The energy may be transformed into another form and re-emitted. For example, heat or thermal energy is generated in many materials when they absorb radiant energy from sunlight.

Synonyms and Related Terms

absorbent; absorb (v.); absorber; Absorption (Deut.); absorption (Fr.); absorção (Port.)

Resources and Citations

  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • A Glossary of Paper Conservation Terms, Margaret Ellis (ed.), Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York City, 1998
  • Mary-Lou Florian, Dale Paul Kronkright, Ruth E. Norton, The Conservation of Artifacts Made from Plant Materials, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, 1990
  • Matte Paint: Its history and technology, analysis, properties and conservation treatment, Eric Hansen, Sue Walston, Mitchell Bishop (ed.), J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles, Vol. 30 of AATA, 1993
  • Theodore J. Reinhart, 'Glossary of Terms', Engineered Plastics, ASM International, 1988