New method to identify inks could help preserve historical documents

Jun 18, 2014
New method to identify inks could help preserve historical documents

The inks on historical documents can hold many secrets. Its ingredients can help trace trade routes and help understand a work's historical significance. And knowing how the ink breaks down can help cultural heritage scientists preserve valuable treasures. In a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, researchers report the development of a new, non-destructive method that can identify many types of inks on various papers and other surfaces.

Richard Van Duyne, Nilam Shah and colleagues explain that the challenge for analyzing inks on historical documents is that there's often very little of it to study. Another complication is that plant- or insect-based inks, as well as some synthetic ones, are composed of organic molecules, which break down easily when exposed to light. Current methods are not very specific or sensitive or can leave a residue on a document. To address these issues, the research team set out to develop a different way to analyze and identify historical inks.

They used the novel method, called tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS), to analyze indigo and iron gall inks on freshly dyed rice papers. They also studied ink on a letter written in the 19th century. "This proof-of-concept work confirms the analytical potential of TERS as a new spectroscopic tool for applications that can identify organic colorants in artworks with high sensitivity, , and minimal invasiveness," say the researchers.

Explore further: Bioengineers develop highly elastic biomaterial for better wound healing

More information: "Tip-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (TERS) for in Situ Identification of Indigo and Iron Gall Ink on Paper" J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014, 136 (24), pp 8677–8684. DOI: 10.1021/ja5027612

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Metal encapsulation optimizes chemical reactions

Jul 01, 2015

The chemical industry consumes millions of tons of packing materials as catalytic sup- port media or adsorbents in fixed-bed reactors and heat storage systems. Fraunhofer researchers have developed a means of encapsulating ...

Fuel and chemicals from steel plant exhaust gases

Jul 01, 2015

Carbon monoxide-rich exhaust gases from steel plants are only being reclaimed to a minor extent as power or heat. Fraunhofer researchers have developed a new recycling process for this materially unused carbon resource: They ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.