by blogger ic
It's already difficult to obtain good fingerprints at a crime scene. In most cases, mostly partials will be found. In cases where there was some type of explosion or fire, other methods like this chemical method could be very helpful not just in recovering the print but also to find out some information on who the suspect could be.
|"The body chemistry of the person who left the fingerprint can tell us some things," said Shaler. "If the suspect is older or younger or a lactating mother, for example."|
The researchers used a form of physical vapor deposition -- a method that uses a vacuum and allows vaporized materials to condense on a surface creating a thin film. Normally, the deposition process requires exceptionally clean surfaces because any speck of dust or grease on the coated surface shows up as a deformity. However, with fingerprints, the point is to have the surface material's ridges and valleys -- topography -- show up on the new surface so analysts can read them using an optical device without the necessity of chemical development or microscopy.
"This approach allows us to look at the topography better and to look at the chemistry later," said Shaler. "We wouldn't have thought of this by ourselves, but we could do it together."
One benefit of this approach would be the ability to retrieve fingerprints off fragments from incendiary or explosive devices and still be able to analyze the chemicals used in the device.
The specific method used is a conformal-evaporated-film-by-rotation technique developed to create highly accurate copies of biological templates such as insect eyes or butterfly wings. Both are surfaces that have nanoscale variations.
"It is a very simple process," said Lakhtakia. "And fingerprints are not nanoscale objects, so the conformal coating is applied to something big by nanotechnology standards."