Science News
from research organizations

Glowing fingerprints to fight crime

Date:
October 21, 2015
Source:
CSIRO Australia
Summary:
A scientist who had his home broken into has developed a new crime scene identification technique to help fingerprint criminals.
Share:
FULL STORY

The new method can reveal fingerprints on metal, plastic and glass.
Credit: CSIRO

An Australian scientist has developed a new crime scene identification technique for fingerprint detection and analysis.

By adding a drop of liquid containing crystals to surfaces, investigators using a UV light are able to see invisible fingerprints "glow" in about 30 seconds.

The strong luminescent effect creates greater contrast between the latent print and surface enabling higher resolution images to be taken for easier and more precise analyses.

The research was published in the Advanced Materials journal today.

CSIRO materials scientist Dr Kang Liang believes that this technique could be used for more challenging evidence where conventional 'dusting' is not appropriate.

"While police and forensics experts use a range of different techniques, sometimes in complex cases evidence needs to be sent off to a lab where heat and vacuum treatment is applied," Dr Liang said.

"Our method reduces these steps, and because it's done on the spot, a digital device could be used at the scene to capture images of the glowing prints to run through the database in real time."

CSIRO's study shows that tiny crystals rapidly bind to fingerprint residue, including proteins, peptides, fatty acids and salts, creating an ultrathin coating that's an exact replica of the pattern.

"Because it works at a molecular level it's very precise and lowers the risk of damaging the print," Dr Liang said.

CSIRO tested the method on nonporous surfaces including window and wine glass, metal blades and plastic light switches, with successful results.

Fingerprint identification has been used as a key method by law enforcement and forensic experts for over 100 years. Adding CSIRO's method to the mix could save valuable time, costs and enhance investigations.

"When my house was broken into I saw how common practice fingerprinting is for police," Dr Liang said.

"Knowing that dusting has been around for a long time, I was inspired to see how new innovative materials could be applied to create even better results.

"As far as we know, it's the first time that these extremely porous metal organic framework (MOF) crystals have been researched for forensics."

MOF crystals have a number of benefits in that they are cheap, react quickly and can emit a bright light. The technique doesn't create any dust or fumes, reducing waste and risk of inhalation.

The method could have other valuable applications including new biomedical devices and drug delivery.

CSIRO is now looking to partner with law enforcement agencies to apply the technique.


Story Source:

Materials provided by CSIRO Australia. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kang Liang, Carlos Carbonell, Mark J. Styles, Raffaele Ricco, Jiwei Cui, Joseph J. Richardson, Daniel Maspoch, Frank Caruso, Paolo Falcaro. Biomimetic Replication of Microscopic Metal-Organic Framework Patterns Using Printed Protein Patterns. Advanced Materials, 2015; DOI: 10.1002/adma.201503167

Cite This Page:

CSIRO Australia. "Glowing fingerprints to fight crime." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151021103224.htm>.
CSIRO Australia. (2015, October 21). Glowing fingerprints to fight crime. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151021103224.htm
CSIRO Australia. "Glowing fingerprints to fight crime." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151021103224.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

RELATED STORIES