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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 220414 Find in a Library
Title: Understanding the Chemistry of the Development of Latent Fingerprints by Superglue Fuming
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:52  Issue:5  Dated:September 2007  Pages:1057-1062
Author(s): Stephen P. Wargacki Ph.D.; Linda A. Lewis Ph.D.; Mark D. Dadmun Ph.D.
Date Published: September 2007
Page Count: 6
Sponsoring Agency: American Chemical Soc
Washington, DC 20036
US Dept of Energy
Washington, DC 20585
Grant Number: DE-AC05-84OR21400;38740-AC7
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Because the mechanistic details of the reaction between fingerprint residue and the cyanoacrylate vapor produced by superglue fuming are not well understood, the current study obtained data on the molecular-level actions in the efficient development of latent fingerprints by superglue fuming.
Abstract: In the superglue fuming of a latent print, the fingerprint is contacted by the cyanoacrylate monomer in the vapor, which produces a white polymer along the ridges of the print, with virtually no polymer deposited on background areas. This provides the contrast needed for visualizing the fingerprint. The current study found that the primary components of sweat (lactate and alanine), which are also the major components of fingerprint residue, are capable of initiating polymerization of ethyl cyanoacrylate produced in the fuming of superglue. The similarity in the data supports the conclusion that both lactate and alanine grow the polymer by the same mechanism, i.e., initiation by the carboxylate functionality. By varying the pH, the polymerization process is either suppressed or enhanced. Increasing the pH or effectively lowering the concentration of hydrogen ions reduces termination, allowing for larger polymer growth. The results also indicate that water cannot be the primary initiator in this forensic technique. The polymerization of ethyl-cyanoacrylate vapor by sodium lactate or alanine solution was examined by monitoring the time dependence of the mass uptake and the characteristics of the resultant polymer molecular weight. 4 tables, 5 figures, and 6 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Fingerprint detection techniques; Fingerprint image quality; Forensic sciences; Investigative techniques; Latent fingerprints
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