The team, led by Professor Sergei Kazarian from Imperial College London’s Department of Chemical Engineering, has devised a technique which collects fingerprints along with their chemical residue and keeps them intact for future reference.
Chemical residues contain a few millionths of a gram of fluid and can be found on all fingerprints. Conventional fingerprinting techniques often distort or destroy vital chemical information with no easy way of lifting residues for chemical imaging, until now.
Imperial scientists found that the use of gel tapes, commercial gelatine based tape, provides a simple method for collection and transportation of prints for chemical imaging analysis.
The prints, once lifted, are analysed in a spectroscopic microscope. The sample is irradiated with infrared rays to identify individual molecules within the print to give a detailed chemical composition.
The information is then processed by an infrared array detector, originally developed by the U.S. military in smart missile technology. The array detector chemically maps the residue. This process builds up a picture, or chemical photograph, and allows for the most comprehensive information obtained from a fingerprint.
“The combined operational advantages and benefits for forensic scientists of tape lifting prints and spectroscopic imaging really maximises the amount of information one can obtain from fingerprints. Our trials show that this technique could play a significant role in the fight against crime,” said Professor Kazarian.
In many cases, this information is enough to determine valuable clues about a person beyond the fingerprint itself. It could potentially identify traces of items people came in contact with, such as gunpowder, narcotics and biological or chemical weapons.
Chemical clues could also highlight specific traits in a person. A strong trace of urea, a chemical found in urine, could indicate a male. Weak traces of urea in a chemical sample could indicate a female. Specific amino acids could potentially indicate whether the suspect was a vegetarian or meat-eater.
Professor Kazarian believes that this technique could allow forensic scientists to observe how fingerprints change in time and within different environments.
“By focussing on what is left in a fingerprint after periods of time, scientists could potentially gauge how old a crime scene is. Studying what happens to prints, when they are exposed to high temperatures, could also be particularly significant, especially in arson cases where lifting prints has been notoriously hard,” he said.
Speculating about the possible future benefits of this process, Professor Sergei Kazarian said:
“In the courtroom of the near future, chemical images could feature as key evidence. I hope our work assists law enforcement authorities to bring dangerous criminals to justice.”
Colin Smith | alfa
Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano
20.10.2017 | Brown University
New software speeds origami structure designs
12.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research