Fears that the Euro is a soft currency are well founded. Well, in a manner of speaking anyway. Early on in the history of the currency (in fact just after the coins and notes came into circulation in 2002) tests were carried out by Newcastle University which revealed the coin’s surface to be softer than that of the Pound.
University Professor Dr Steve Bull used a newly acquired Hysitron Triboindenter, a next generation nanomechanical test instrument, to make indentations (of less than 60 nanometres deep) in the coins. The Triboindenter uses a sharpened diamond tip to penetrate surfaces whilst analysing their mechanical response. The mass required to make an indentation is equivalent to the slightest pressure of a fingertip.
Although the primary purpose of the experiment was to test the Tribonidenter’s capabilities, through measuring the extent of force required to make the invisible-to-the-naked-eye indentations Dr Bull was able to conclude that the surface of the Euro was 10-20 percent softer than the Pound. He did add however that the structure of the coin’s surface would harden through use and through contact with other coinage in a pocket type environment.
Dr Bull stated that ‘We were really using the coins to test the equipment rather than the other way around – but the data we produced were very interesting. Conventional microhardness testing would not have been accurate enough to show the differences between the surfaces of the coins.’
With hindsight perhaps these results were an omen for the future…