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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 220642 Find in a Library
Title: Fingerprinting Reforms at Hand
Journal: Law Enforcement Technology  Volume:34  Issue:10  Dated:October 2007  Pages:128,130,133
Author(s): Douglas Page
Date Published: October 2007
Page Count: 5
Type: Report (Technical Assistance)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article describes a novel method of detecting fingerprints by using X-rays, which don't disturb the print and reveal chemical markers that could give investigators new clues for tracking suspects and missing persons.
Abstract: The technique, which was developed by researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, uses a process called microbeam X-ray fluorescence (MXRF), which quickly reveals the elemental composition of a sample by irradiating it with a thin beam of X-rays without disturbing the sample. This method is significant because it does not require using developing agents to treat the print. Conventional fingerprinting methods treat samples with powders, liquids, or vapors. These methods can sometimes destroy parts of the prints and may fail to detect prints left on some materials. Research on the use of MXRF in developing fingerprints, however, has stalled because it lacks additional funding. Currently, the research is at the stage of proof-of-concept. Researchers have shown the technique can detect the sodium, potassium, and chlorine from salts contained in the sweat excreted from fingers and deposited on surfaces they touch. Researchers do not claim that the method can replace current print detection protocols, but rather complement the techniques. The MXRF method currently requires a prior knowledge of the print location. A number of issues remain to be pursued with this method before it is available for use in the field, including designing an X-ray instrument for analyzing fingerprints in the field. The instrument used in the lab for concept work was built for a variety of material analysis applications and not specifically for fingerprints; therefore, it is not optimized for detecting trace levels of chemicals found in some types of prints. Additional funding would make such developments possible.
Main Term(s): Police policies and procedures
Index Term(s): Fingerprint detection techniques; Fingerprint image quality; Fingerprints; Forensic sciences; Investigative techniques; X-Ray Technology
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