What is it about?

Few fingerprint development techniques enable investigators to identify whether a fingerprint was deposited on the paper before or after printing with text or an image. This work uses the highly surface sensitive technique - SIMS - to study the salt distribution in the surface of the fingermark, and enables the distinction of fingerprint before or after text 100% of the time on laser printed paper. The results also show the complexity of paper surfaces, and how the chemical elements in a fingerprint are unevenly distributed.

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Why is it important?

This work helps forensic investigations by gaining extra intelligence from the crime scene. Fingerprints can be put in context, allowing investigators to know if they were deposited before or after the printing on a document. For example, did someone read a letter or write it? Load the photocopier, or handle the faked certificate?


This work was the winner of the PW Allen Award from the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, and led to a follow up work, extending the study internationally. The links are available in 'related content'.

Dr Benjamin J Jones
University of Abertay Dundee

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Determining the order of deposition of natural latent fingerprints and laser printed ink using chemical mapping with secondary ion mass spectrometry, Science & Justice, March 2013, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2012.05.007.
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