Forensic ink dating

Inks contain chemical solvents that evaporate and generally go through a drying process that can last up to 2 years.

We use the most widely accepted chemical analysis technique known as gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) to help determine if a written entry was created in the past two years.

A new method that determines the age of a document in a less invasive way than other techniques and is also able to date documents up to five years old.

In fact, the dating of documents is a key area in the field of forensic science.

Its use could have for example helped to determine the moment when the papers in the Bárcenas [corruption claims] case were written." To conduct the research work, the Department of Analytical Chemistry had the collaboration of the company Investigaciones Forenses Documentales LEYAS and Magdalena Ezcurra holder of a Ph D from the UPV/EHU.

This company also supplied the knowledge about the current problems in dating documents, real cases that had been subjected to legal examination.

These are often very tricky questions to answer and frequently arise in judicial contexts.

The UPV/EHU's research team --comprising the professor of Analytical Chemistry Rosa María Alonso, Dr Itxaso San Román of the Farmartem group of the Department of Analytical Chemistry, and Dr Luis Bartolomé of the Central Analysis Service of Bizkaia (SGIker)-- has developed the Datink method that allows the period of time the ink may have remained on the paper to be determined and its age to be ascertained.

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.Nevertheless, this methodology is a pilot experience that requires further in-depth research when it comes to evaluating the limits of the applicability of the various inks and makes of ballpoint pens, thus reducing its potential limitations. Historical research using forensic fingerprinting techniques on the wax seals of thousands of medieval documents will reveal new insights into 12th to 14th century British society, help determine how ...As Luis Bartolomé pointed out, "what is interesting about this method is that it can more accurately determine the age of the stroke produced by the ballpoint pen. 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.

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