Analysis of fingermarks with synchrotron techniques provide new insights

phys.org | 6/26/2018 | Staff
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The findings by lead researchers Prof Simon Lewis and Dr. Mark Hackett may provide opportunities to optimise current fingermark detection methods or identify new detection strategies for forensic purposes.

Latent fingermarks are generally described as those requiring some process to make them readily visible to the eye. These fingermarks are typically made up of natural skin secretions, along with contaminants (such as food or cosmetics) picked up from various surfaces.

Detection - Latent - Fingermarks - Investigations - Straightforward

The detection of latent fingermarks is often crucial in forensic investigations, but this is not always a straightforward task.

"We know that there are issues in detecting fingermarks as they get older, and also under certain environmental conditions," said Lewis, whose main research focus is forensic exchange evidence.

Order - Ability - Fingermarks - Nature - Fingermark

"In order to improve our ability to detect fingermarks, we need to understand the nature of fingermark residue, and this includes both the organic and inorganic components. Many chemical components in fingermark residue are present at very low levels, and we don't know how they are distributed within the fingermark. This is what took us to the Australian Synchrotron."

To date, most fingermark research has largely focused on the organic material in residues. Consequently, a gap in fundamental knowledge exists when it comes to inorganic components such as metals.

XFM - Elements - Resolution - Length - Scales

"XFM can detect elements with spatial resolution at sub-micron length scales directly and rapidly. Importantly, it reveals the location of elements within a sample, which is valuable in forensic science and a range of other disciplines," said Dr. Daryl Howard, XFM Instrument Scientist, who assisted with the measurements.

Dr. Mark Hackett, who is an expert in mapping metals for health and bioscience applications, said, "We have been able to use X-rays generated by the synchrotron to study how trace amounts of metals and metal ions can be transferred to a fingermark due to handing everyday items that range from coins...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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