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Hair dye 'CSI' could help police solve crimes

Date:
February 18, 2015
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Criminals with a penchant for dyeing their hair could soon pay for their vanity. Scientists have found a way to analyze hair samples at crime scenes to rapidly determine whether it was colored and what brand of dye was used.
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Criminals with a penchant for dyeing their hair could soon pay for their vanity. Scientists have found a way to analyze hair samples at crime scenes to rapidly determine whether it was colored and what brand of dye was used. Their report appears in the ACS journal Analytical Chemistry.

Richard P. Van Duyne and Dmitry Kurouski note that analyzing hairs for forensic investigations, despite what TV shows would have you believe, can be a labor-intensive and flawed process. Testing samples for DNA requires an intact bulb or root, which isn't always present. Plus, the procedure is time-consuming, which can cause a large backlog of cases. So investigators will often opt to use the more traditional method of visually comparing hair from a crime scene with samples from suspects using a microscope. But this technique doesn't necessarily provide conclusive results. Van Duyne and Kurouski wanted to find a more practical and accurate way to analyze hair.

The researchers turned to surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) with a portable Raman spectrometer. SERS can detect minute amounts of illicit drugs, explosives, gunshot residue and body fluids. With this method, the team could rapidly confirm whether hair samples, even microscopic ones, were dyed and what brand of colorant was used. This highly sensitive technique could help forensic investigators analyze hair quickly in the field, the researchers say.


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Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dmitry Kurouski, Richard P. Van Duyne. In SituDetection and Identification of Hair Dyes Using Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS). Analytical Chemistry, 2015; 150211142048005 DOI: 10.1021/ac504405u

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Hair dye 'CSI' could help police solve crimes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 February 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150218141321.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2015, February 18). Hair dye 'CSI' could help police solve crimes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150218141321.htm
American Chemical Society. "Hair dye 'CSI' could help police solve crimes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150218141321.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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