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The Deterioration of Magnetic Tapes and Its Assessment by Physical and Chemical Testing

The chemical stability of audio carriers is of crucial importance for the integrity and the readability of recordings. Although, in general, magnetic tape is a widely used and reliable datacarrier, several problems related to its chemical stability have been observed. Most prominent is the so-called Sticky Tape or Sticky Shed Syndrome, which is the outcome of pigment binder degradation. Magnetic tapes (audio and video) of relatively recent production suffer from this phenomenon, and it is not yet known to what degree stocks of magnetic tapes will be affected in the future. The paper describes chemical and physical methods for the assessment of the degree of such degradation. The aim is to explore methods to assess the most endangered tapes in order to transfer them onto new carriers before they become unplayable.

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