Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Collaboration Between Penn Chemist And Secret Service Points The Way To Improved Gathering Of Fingerprints

Date:
February 7, 2001
Source:
University Of Pennsylvania
Summary:
What do you get when you cross an organic chemist with the U.S. Secret Service? In at least one case, such a partnership has resulted in a means of developing fingerprints at crime scenes that’s less damaging to evidence, more sensitive and less expensive for law enforcement agencies.

Philadelphia -- What do you get when you cross an organic chemist with the U.S. Secret Service?

In at least one case, such a partnership has resulted in a means of developing fingerprints at crime scenes that’s less damaging to evidence, more sensitive and less expensive for law enforcement agencies. The class of chemicals the team ultimately fingered, known as indanediones, recently received a U.S. patent, and a European company has obtained a non-exclusive license to the technology.

This unusual crime-fighting alliance was born several years ago when federal agents appeared unannounced at the laboratory of Madeleine M. Joullié, Class of 1970 Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. They thought the organic chemist might be just the answer to modernizing the dusty old art of fingerprinting.

"Often we were speaking entirely different languages," Joullié said of her unlikely detour into work supported by the National Institute of Justice. "I’d go to law-enforcement conferences where nobody else understood me and I didn’t understand anybody else."

Despite the cultural gulf separating them, Joullié and her colleagues in the Secret Service managed a balancing act in more ways than one. Methods used to detect fingerprints must be gentle and sensitive -- the smudge left on a surface by a passing finger contains, on average, just one millionth of a gram of amino acids, fatty acids, glycerides, urea and salts -- and yet inexpensive enough to be dusted on evidence at crime scenes. Indanediones appear to fit the bill better than any of the various fingerprinting compounds now available.

Despite other technological advances in law enforcement, the materials used in this staple of crime-scene investigation have remained remarkably low-tech over the years. While various alternatives exist, the fingerprinting chemical most used by law enforcement agencies the world over is a 1950s-era compound called ninhydrin.

Another fingerprint-finding compound now used by some police departments, diazafluorenone, comes in at roughly $40 a gram, a real budget-buster for most police departments. The indanediones developed by Joullié can be produced for a fraction of that cost via a relatively straightforward, reliable sequence of reactions.

Low cost isn’t indanediones’ only advantage. When combined with the amino acids in a fingerprint, indanediones’ heightened sensitivity causes them to glow even more brightly than the pricey diazafluorenone. Indanediones are also significantly easier to use.

"To avoid thermal decomposition of evidence, diazafluorenone prints must be developed with a carefully timed application of a high-temperature, dry-heat system," Joullié said. "In the case of indanediones, only steam heat in necessary, which does not damage the evidence."

Joullié was joined in the development of indanedione fingerprinting compounds by Diane Hauze and Olga Petrovskaia, both of whom received their doctorates from Penn, and Bruce Taylor, formerly a postdoctoral researcher at Penn. Colleagues at the Secret Service included forensic chemists Anthony Cantu and Robert Ramotowski.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Pennsylvania. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Pennsylvania. "Collaboration Between Penn Chemist And Secret Service Points The Way To Improved Gathering Of Fingerprints." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 February 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010206080751.htm>.
University Of Pennsylvania. (2001, February 7). Collaboration Between Penn Chemist And Secret Service Points The Way To Improved Gathering Of Fingerprints. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010206080751.htm
University Of Pennsylvania. "Collaboration Between Penn Chemist And Secret Service Points The Way To Improved Gathering Of Fingerprints." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010206080751.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) — The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) — The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) — President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) — Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins