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Issue 15, 2018
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Detection of exogenous substances in latent fingermarks by silver-assisted LDI imaging MS: perspectives in forensic sciences

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Abstract

For over one hundred years, the fingerprint has reigned as one of the most trusted pieces of forensic evidence for suspect identification. In the last few decades, the modernization of chemical analysis technologies led scientists to explore new possibilities to further analyse fingermarks sampled from a crime scene. Indeed, the detection of chemicals a suspect has been in contact with before or during the crime can provide valuable insights into criminal investigations. In this regard, imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) has shown to be a powerful tool for the analysis of fingermarks by combining suspect identification and the detection of numerous endogenous and exogenous compounds. A novel approach developed in our laboratory, silver-assisted laser desorption ionization (AgLDI), was adopted to allow for the chemical analysis of latent fingermarks left on nonconductive surfaces (such as paper, cardboard, plastic and forensic lifting tape) with a time-of-flight mass spectrometer. In this study, we continue to evaluate the potential of AgLDI IMS to provide circumstantial evidence by detecting exogenous substances. We first demonstrate that owner-specific chemical signatures can be recovered from fingermarks based on the presence of several cosmetics and personal care products. We then show the possibility of detecting and imaging fingermarks containing three common illicit drugs, namely tetrahydrocannabinol, cocaine and heroin. Finally, we demonstrate that the methodology also allows us to successfully image bloody fingermarks after appropriate forensic enhancement treatments. Overall, we believe that AgLDI IMS has significant potential that could positively contribute to forensic investigations.

Graphical abstract: Detection of exogenous substances in latent fingermarks by silver-assisted LDI imaging MS: perspectives in forensic sciences

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Publication details

The article was received on 13 Apr 2018, accepted on 04 Jun 2018 and first published on 07 Jun 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8AN00688A
Citation: Analyst, 2018,143, 3586-3594
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    Detection of exogenous substances in latent fingermarks by silver-assisted LDI imaging MS: perspectives in forensic sciences

    N. Lauzon and P. Chaurand, Analyst, 2018, 143, 3586
    DOI: 10.1039/C8AN00688A

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