New method reveals fingerprints on metal, plastic and glass.

Credit: CSIRO

The new method can reveal fingerprints on metal, plastic and glass.
By adding a drop of liquid containing crystals to surfaces, 
 using a UV light are able to see invisible finger-
prints "glow" in about 30 seconds.
Recent advances in identifying suspects is truly amazing.  There is, for example, 

  1. a new method for dating the age of a fingerprint allowing investigators to focus on current evidence rather than having to check out prints left prior to a crime.  There is 
  2. a new method of scanning fingerprints that shows not only the surface whorls and loops of a fingerprint, it shows underlying structures of the skin as well.  There is now 
  3. a method for taking fingerprints off ATM receipts and other paper documents.  And in some countries,
  4. babies are being fingerprinted at birth to build a database to be used to track medical care, but, has the potential to be used to identify people later in life.

And the list goes on.

As a perpetrator caught by one of these new techniques might say, "What a world, what a world."

Indeed it is.

For writers of crime fiction or the many crime reality shows, this is a time of great breakthroughs that impact every story they write.  

Here's the story with a link to Dr Liang's original paper in the attribution.
*  *  *  *  * 

Glowing fingerprints to fight crime

An Australian scientist who had his home broken into has developed a new crime scene identification technique to help fingerprint criminals. 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.

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (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. CSIRO is looking to partner with law enforcement agencies to apply the technique.

Related stories:

  1. Breakthrough uncovers fingerprints on ATM receipts
  2. New CSI tool pinpoints when fingerprints were left behind
  3. New "Internal" Fingerprinting Technique Simpler, Cheaper & More Accurate
  4. Scanning babies' fingerprints: Tracking Health Care. Building a Global Database for???

Story Source:  Materials provided by CSIRO Australia.  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


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