Ink dating expert

Itxaso San Román, Luis Bartolomé and Rosa María Alonso allowed the chemical compound to age under normal conditions, without ageing it artificially, which is what happens in other methods, and studied its evaporation speed.When analysing the kinetics involved in its disappearance, the research group established a pattern that links the state of the ink with the time that has elapsed.

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What is more, the new technique reduces the number of punctures needed to analyse the writing on a document to just one.

The problems Determining the age of a document to find out whether it is authentic is a task influenced by the type of paper on which it has been written, the pressure of the stroke -the amount of ink deposited when the writing was done- or even the technique used.

Until now, document dating methods have been able to indicate whether the writing was relatively new (less than 90 days) or older (over two years), yet this chronological accuracy is insufficient in certain cases, above all in judicial ones.

Aware of these difficulties, the UPV/EHU team began to work on samples written for research purposes.

More accurate, less invasive After observing this natural evolution and once the base guideline had been established, the next challenge to be overcome was to check the viability of the method using spontaneously written documents whose exact age was known, such as diaries, laboratory logs and judicial evidence from judicial processes that had been closed.

So the team used the same procedure as that used to analyse the samples produced for the research. This technique managed to spot the age of the ink on documents written up to five years previously and with an approximation margin of about 20%.

Or else it is a very useful tool to date contracts, settlements, wills or other documents.

Its use could have for example helped to determine the moment when the papers in the Bárcenas [corruption claims] case were written." Explore further: What do walnuts smell like?

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To do this, they used BIC ballpoint pens, one of the most common makes and, therefore, the most widely used in documents subjected to legal examination.

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