New Fingerprint Detection Technology

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Researchers at the University of Leicester, UK, working with Northamptonshire Police, have found a new technique for identifying fingerprints on metal. This method will enable forensic scientists to 'visualise fingerprints' even after the print itself has been removed. What is even more interesting is that this technology could 'enhance — after firing — a fingerprint that has been deposited on a small calibre metal cartridge case before it is fired.' As said the lead researcher, 'For the first time we can get prints from people who handled a cartridge before it was fired.' They add that 'cases dating back decades could be reopened because the underlying print never disappears.' But read more…

This research project has been led by Dr John Bond, the Manager of the Northamptonshire Police Scientific Support Unit, and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Leicester Forensic Research Centre. For a list of other research projects, here is a link to a news release from the Northamptonshire Police about the collaboration with the University of Leicester (May 19, 2008).

Here are some quotes from Bond about this new technique to discover fingerprints on metal surfaces. "Wiping it down, washing it in hot soapy water makes no difference — and the heat of the shot helps the process we use. The procedure works by applying an electric charge to a metal — say a gun or bullet — which has been coated in a fine conducting powder, similar to that used in photocopiers. Even if the fingerprint has been washed off, it leaves a slight corrosion on the metal and this attracts the powder when the charge is applied, so showing up a residual fingerprint. The technique works on everything from bullet casings to machine guns. Even if heat vaporises normal clues, police will be able to prove who handled a particular gun."


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