Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Identification of recently handled materials by analysis of latent human fingerprints using
- Author(s): Grant, Ashleigh
- Wilkinson, T.J.
- Holman, Thomas
- Martin, Michael C.
- et al.
Analysis of fingerprints has predominantly focused on matching the pattern of ridges to a specific person as a form of identification. The present work focuses on identifying extrinsic materials that are left within a person's fingerprint after recent handling of such materials. Specifically, we employed infrared spectromicroscopy to locate and positively identify microscopic particles from a mixture of common materials in the latent human fingerprints of volunteer subjects. We were able to find and correctly identify all test substances based on their unique infrared spectral signatures. Spectral imaging is demonstrated as a method for automating recognition of specific substances in a fingerprint. We also demonstrate the use of Attenuated Total Reflectance (ATR) and synchrotron-based infrared spectromicroscopy for obtaining high-quality spectra from particles that were too thick or too small, respectively, for reflection/absorption measurements. We believe the application of this rapid, non-destructive analytical technique to the forensic study of latent human finger prints has the potential to add a new layer of information available to investigators. Using fingerprints to not only identify who was present at a crime scene, but also to link who was handling key materials will be a powerful investigative tool.