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
Construction of practical quantum computers radically simplified
05.12.2016 | University of Sussex
UT professor develops algorithm to improve online mapping of disaster areas
29.11.2016 | University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering