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In other words, when applying this analysis procedure, the team can indicate whether the document was written 1,500 days previously (just over four years) with a margin of 300 days either way.
That is why it is very useful for documents that have been signed as it is possible to compare whether the body of the document, if it has been written by hand, is as old as the signature.
Carbon-14 was discovered on February 27, 1940, by Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben at the University of California Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley, California.
Its existence had been suggested by Franz Kurie in 1934. The primary natural source of carbon-14 on Earth is cosmic ray action on nitrogen in the atmosphere, and it is therefore a cosmogenic nuclide.
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%.
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.
But this technique is also able to overcome other stumbling blocks relating to the amount of ink deposited when writing and the type of paper used, as these variables hamper the dating of a document by means of traditional methods.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.All of my instructors were well educated and informed in this area of health care and have been very excited to share their knowledge and experiences with the students. The UPV/EHU has developed the Datink 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.It gives you a little more freedom and flexibility.