This article describes the use of paper spray mass spectrometry (PS-MS) for the direct analysis of black ink writings made with ballpoint pens. The novel approach was developed in a forensic context by first performing the classification of commercially available ballpoint pens according to their brands. Six of the most commonly worldwide utilized brands (Bic, Paper Mate, Faber Castell, Pentel, Compactor, and Pilot) were differentiated according to their characteristic chemical patterns obtained by PS-MS. MS on the negative ion mode at a mass range of m/z 100–1000 allowed prompt discrimination just by visual inspection. On the other hand, the concept of relative ion intensity (RII) and the analysis at other mass ranges were necessary for the differentiation using the positive ion mode. PS-MS combined with partial least squares (PLS) was utilized to monitor changes on the ink chemical composition after light exposure (artificial aging studies). The PLS model was optimized by variable selection, which allowed the identification of the most influencing ions on the degradation process. The feasibility of the method on forensic investigations was also demonstrated in three different applications: (1) analysis of overlapped fresh ink lines, (2) analysis of old inks from archived documents, and (3) detection of alterations (simulated forgeries) performed on archived documents.
Journal of The American Society for Mass Spectrometry – Springer Journals
Published: May 5, 2017
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