Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New Fingerprint Breakthrough By Forensic Scientists

University of Leicester and Northamptonshire Police research reveals new techniques for identifying prints on metal
Forensic scientists at the University of Leicester, working with Northamptonshire Police, have announced a major breakthrough in crime detection which could lead to hundreds of cold cases being reopened.

The University’s Forensic Research Centre has been working with Northamptonshire Police’s scientific support unit to develop new ways of taking fingerprints from a crime scene.

Researchers in the University Department of Chemistry and the Police’s scientific support unit have developed the method that enables scientists to ‘visualise fingerprints’ even after the print itself has been removed. They conducted a study into the way fingerprints can corrode metal surfaces. The technique can enhance – after firing– a fingerprint that has been deposited on a small calibre metal cartridge case before it is fired.

Dr John Bond, Honorary Fellow at the University of Leicester and Scientific Support Manager at Northamptonshire Police said: “For the first time we can get prints from people who handled a cartridge before it was fired.”

"Wiping it down, washing it in hot soapy water makes no difference - and the heat of the shot helps the process we use.

“The procedure works by applying an electric charge to a metal - say a gun or bullet - which has been coated in a fine conducting powder, similar to that used in photocopiers.

“Even if the fingerprint has been washed off, it leaves a slight corrosion on the metal and this attracts the powder when the charge is applied, so showing up a residual fingerprint.

“The technique works on everything from bullet casings to machine guns. Even if heat vaporises normal clues, police will be able to prove who handled a particular gun.”

Dr. Bond’s initial findings, which prompted the joint study, have been announced in a paper in the American Journal of Forensic Science.

Professor Rob Hillman of the Department of Chemistry added: “It is very satisfying to see excellent fundamental science being applied to a practical problem. We are delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Bond and his colleagues and we look forward to some very exciting chemistry and its application to forensic science.”

As a result of the research, cases dating back decades could be reopened because the underlying print never disappears, say the scientists. The technique also works in cases where prints may be left on other metals.

Dr Bond added: "It's certainly possible hundreds of cold cases could be reopened because with this method the only way to avoid a fingerprint being detected is through abrasive cleaning as that takes a layer off the metal.

Dr Emma Palmer, Director of the University's Forensic Research Centre said: “This collaboration between the University of Leicester and Northamptonshire Police is an excellent example of applying research to a practical problem in crime detection.”

Dr Bond and Professor Rob Hillman of the Chemistry Department at the University now intend to take this research forward via a three-year Ph.D. studentship to commence next academic year. The new project will explore further the corrosion of metal by fingerprint residue and investigate how it might be used to detect more crime with forensic science.

Ather Mirza | University of Leicester
Further information:

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>