Naperville Central Students Research at Argonne

What makes some documents stand the test of time, and others fall flat?

Lucy Wang and Rick Li, both students at Naperville Central, have been conducting experiments to figure out just that.

“We were analyzing exactly the historic composition of the ink, so we wanted to know over that time did anything of the composition of the ink change. And we could see was it because the ink was different or was it because over time the ink has a different effect on the paper,” said Wang, who is a senior at Naperville Central.

But unlike most high school scientists, Lucy and Rick got to conduct part of their research at Argonne National Laboratory, working alongside Dr. Volker Rose and using Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source.

“So what happens is they shoot- x-rays and from these x-rays we get extra energy, and these energy go through our sample and then from the way that the rays interact with the sample we can see what elements are in the sample,” said Wang.

Based on their findings, the duo also tried to develop their own ink, hoping to make one that could last even longer.

“We wanted to see how does the ink absorb into the paper, if it just stays on the surface, if it kind of enters through different fibers and how exactly that interacts and how that works over time,” said Li, who is a junior at Naperville Central.

After working on this research all school year, the pair presented all of their findings at Argonne, alongside other scientists of all ages.

“I thought it was incredible. In classrooms we learn a lot of theory, but actually being out there, being in an actual lab, seeing what scientists do every day, that’s something that- it’s an amazing opportunity that we have and I thought it really kind of put a lot of our learning into perspective,” said Li.

Rick and Lucy worked with samples of historical documents provided by Naper Settlement.

Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.

 

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