STATE COLLEGE, Pa., May 11 (UPI) — Fingerprints can’t always be retrieved from objects, but two U.S. scientists say they’ve created a process that can reveal such prints on non-porous surfaces.
Pennsylvania State University Professors Robert Shaler and Ahklesh Lakhtakia said their conformal coating process can reveal hard-to-develop fingerprints without altering the chemistry of the print.
“As prints dry or age, the common techniques used to develop latent fingerprints — such as dusting or cyanoacrylate (SuperGlue) fuming — often fail,” Shaler said, explaining most current techniques rely on the chemistry of the print. He explained fingerprints are made up a mix of secretions from the body that reacts with different chemicals to form a visible or fluorescent product. Infrared and X-ray imaging also target specific chemicals left behind by the ridges and valleys in the skin.
The new conformal coating applications suggested by Shaler and Lakhtakia use the physical properties of the fingerprint, not the chemistry of the substances left behind. In fact, the researchers said even after the fingerprints are developed using the coating, forensics experts could sample the fingerprint material to determine specifics about the person who left the prints.
“The body chemistry of the person who left the fingerprint can tell us some things,” said Shaler. “If the suspect is older or younger or a lactating mother, for example.”
The researchers said they have filed a provisional patent application for the technology.
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