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SEM image of the week: Have a nice day

Posted on Monday, March 26, 2012 by for SEM.

Sitting in class I often wondered what the scribbles I drew on my paper actually looked like on a microscopic level because what we our eyes see is limited. Using the SEM I was able to get a closer look.

Under the microscope 3 pieces of paper were placed, each had a drawing of a
smiley face written by various writing utensils. In this case, it was a pencil, ball point pen, and a gel ink pen. The results were interesting in that the image of the smiley face drawn with the pencil was the lightest whereas the one drawn with the gel ink pen was the boldest.

The composition of the pen may have had an influence on the results considering that pencils are made of graphite, ball point pens contain a viscous oil based ink and the ink in gel pens is composed of a less viscous water based liquid. Out of the three, the gel pen was the least viscous and therefore it was it was better absorbed by the paper and was the most visible under the microscope. The difference between the three writing utensils is pretty evident in the images captured by the SEM.

NYCBOE pencil Ballpoint pen Gel ink pen The three writing
instruments together

Image and text credit: Ramsha Farooq