The forensic analysis of office paper using carbon isotope ratio mass spectrometry - Part 1: Understanding the background population and homogeneity of paper for the comparison and discrimination of samples

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Journal Article
Forensic Science International, 2013, 231 (1-3), pp. 354 - 363
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Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) has been shown to be a useful tool in the comparison of materials that are chemically identical either through man-made production processes or for materials that have been naturally produced. Paper therefore, is an ideal material for this type of measurement given that it is manufactured from a naturally produced product that can be difficult to discriminate based on physical feature comparison alone. To determine whether carbon isotopes are useful for discriminating document papers, 125 samples from Australia and New Zealand were collected over a 24-month period. When measured, a range of 8‰ was observed. A homogeneity study was undertaken to examine the range of values expected from paper sources including single sheets, single reams and multiple reams from the same brand. These results can also be used to suggest how best to sample from these different sources. After characterizing the natural variation of the material, a range of 1‰ was defined for use as a benchmark for discrimination. Utilizing this threshold, 68% of the 125 collected samples (when paired against each other) could be discriminated using the carbon isotope abundances alone. Additionally, correlation was observed when measured values were plotted against their production region of origin. © 2013.
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