Laser desorption mass spectrometry (LDMS) may be used for the detection and identification of dyes found in inks. Naturally-aged and artificially-aged blue and black ballpoint pen inks containing the cationic dye methyl violet were analyzed on paper. The average molecular weight of the dye sample was calculated from LD mass spectral data and plotted versus time. The resulting aging curves demonstrate that, as dye degradation increases, the average molecular weight of the dye decreases. Typical variables involved in ink aging, such as the type of paper and ink formulation, were investigated. Results show that these variables influence the rate of dye degradation. Furthermore, UV accelerated aging has been developed and tested as an alternative to thermal approaches.
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