July 24, 2007 In a finding that should get a "thumbs up" from CSI fans, researchers in the United Kingdom are reporting development of a fast new fingerprinting method that shows promise for improving the collection and analysis of fingerprints from crime scenes.
Standard methods for collecting fingerprints at crime scenes, such as dusting, can sometimes alter the prints and erase valuable forensic clues, including traces of chemicals that may be in the prints. In the new study, Sergei G. Kazarian of Imperial College London and colleagues used a special gelatin tape to collect fingerprints from several different surfaces including a door handle, a mug handle, a curved glass surface, and a computer screen. They exposed the imprinted gels to a highly sensitive instrument that used a beam of infrared light and an array detector to obtain images of the collected fingerprints.
The method revealed valuable chemical information about the composition of the prints, potentially giving information about the individual depositing them (e.g. smoker, vegetarian), and the presence of contaminants within the prints, which could provide clues about what possible suspects had handled (e.g. foodstuffs, drugs) and, thus could be useful in identifying a criminal, the report said. In addition, the new method kept the original fingerprints intact and available for further analysis, the researchers added.
The finding is scheduled for publication in the August 1 issue of ACS' Analytical Chemistry.
Article: "Spectroscopic Imaging of Latent Fingermarks Collected with the Aid of a Gelatin Tape"
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