Examination of Heterogeneous Crossing Sequences Between Toner and Rollerball Pen Strokes by Digital Microscopy and 3-D Laser Profilometry


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Examination of Heterogeneous Crossing Sequences Between Toner and Rollerball Pen Strokes by Digital Microscopy and 3-D Laser Profilometry
Journal of Forensic Sciences
Montani I., Mazzella W., Guichard M., Marquis R.
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The determination of line crossing sequences between rollerball pens and laser printers presents difficulties that may not be overcome using traditional techniques. This research aimed to study the potential of digital microscopy and 3-D laser profilometry to determine line crossing sequences between a toner and an aqueous ink line. Different paper types, rollerball pens, and writing pressure were tested. Correct opinions of the sequence were given for all case scenarios, using both techniques. When the toner was printed before the ink, a light reflection was observed in all crossing specimens, while this was never observed in the other sequence types. The 3-D laser profilometry, more time-consuming, presented the main advantage of providing quantitative results. The findings confirm the potential of the 3-D laser profilometry and demonstrate the efficiency of digital microscopy as a new technique for determining the sequence of line crossings involving rollerball pen ink and toner.
With the mass marketing of laser printers and the popularity of rollerball pens, the determination of line crossing sequences between such instruments is encountered by forensic document examiners. This type of crossing presents difficulties with optical microscopic line crossing techniques involving ballpoint pens or gel pens and toner (1-4). Indeed, the rollerball's aqueous ink penetrates through the toner and is absorbed by the fibers of the paper, leaving the examiner with the impression that the toner is above the ink even when it is not (5). Novotny and Westwood (3) investigated the possibility of determining aqueous ink and toner crossing sequences by microscopic observation of the intersection before and after toner removal. A major disadvantage of their study resides in destruction of the sample by scraping off the toner line to see what was underneath. The aim of this research was to investigate the ways to overcome these difficulties through digital microscopy and three-dimensional (3-D) laser profilometry. The former was used as a technique for the determination of sequences between gel pen and toner printing strokes, but provided less conclusive results than that of an optical stereomicroscope (4). 3-D laser profilometry, which allows one to observe and measure the topography of a surface, has been the subject of a number of recent studies in this area. Berx and De Kinder (6) and Schirripa Spagnolo (7,8) have tested the application of laser profilometry to determine the sequence of intersections of several lines. The results obtained in these studies overcome disadvantages of other methods applied in this area, such as scanning electron microscope or the atomic force microscope. The main advantages of 3-D laser profilometry include the ease of implementation of the technique and its nondestructive nature, which does not require sample preparation (8-10). Moreover, the technique is reproducible and presents a high degree of freedom in the vertical axes (up to 1000 μm). However, when the paper surface presents a given roughness, if the pen impressions alter the paper with a depth similar to the roughness of medium, the results are not always conclusive (8). It becomes difficult in this case to distinguish which characteristics can be imputed to the pen impressions or the quality of the paper surface. This important limitation is assessed by testing different types of paper of variable quality (of different grammage and finishing) and the writing pressure. The authors will therefore assess the limits of 3-D laser profilometry technique and determine whether the method can overcome such constraints. Second, the authors will investigate the use of digital microscopy because it presents a number of advantages: it is efficient, user-friendly, and provides an objective evaluation and interpretation.
forensic science, questioned documents, laser profilometry, digital microscopy, rollerball pens, toner printing, crossing sequences, line crossings
Create date
07/08/2012 15:47
Last modification date
20/08/2019 16:34
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