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Revealing the spatial distribution of chemical species within latent fingermarks using vibrational spectroscopy

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Abstract

Latent fingermarks are an important form of crime-scene trace evidence and their usefulness may be increased by a greater understanding of the effect of chemical distribution within fingermarks on the sensitivity and robustness of fingermark detection methods. Specifically, the relative abundance and micro-distribution of sebaceous (lipophilic) and eccrine (hydrophilic) material in fingermarks have long been debated in the field, yet direct visualisation of relative abundance and micro-distribution was rarely achieved. Such a visualisation is nonetheless essential to provide explanations for the variation in reproducibility or robustness of latent fingermark detection with existing methods, and to identify new strategies to increase detection capabilities. In this investigation, we have used SR-ATR-FTIR and confocal Raman microscopy to probe the spatial micro-distribution of the sebaceous and eccrine chemical components within latent fingermarks, deposited on non-porous surfaces. It was determined that fingermarks exhibit a complex spatial distribution, influenced by the ratio of lipophilic to aqueous components, and to a first approximation resemble a water-in-oil or oil-in-water emulsion. Detection of a substantial lipid component in “eccrine enriched fingermarks” (wherein hands are washed to remove lipids) is noteworthy, as it provides a potential explanation for several scenarios of unexpected fingermark detection using methods previously thought unsuitable for “eccrine deposits”. Furthermore, the pronounced distribution of lipids observed in natural fingermark deposits was intriguing and agrees with recent discussion in this research field that natural fingermarks contain a much higher lipid content than previously thought.

Graphical abstract: Revealing the spatial distribution of chemical species within latent fingermarks using vibrational spectroscopy

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Publication details

The article was received on 29 Sep 2017, accepted on 11 Jun 2018 and first published on 15 Jun 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7AN01615H
Citation: Analyst, 2018, Advance Article
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    Revealing the spatial distribution of chemical species within latent fingermarks using vibrational spectroscopy

    B. N. Dorakumbura, R. E. Boseley, T. Becker, D. E. Martin, A. Richter, M. J. Tobin, W. van Bronswjik, J. Vongsvivut, M. J. Hackett and S. W. Lewis, Analyst, 2018, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7AN01615H

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