The science of fingerprint analysis in the past has simply been this: dusting for prints, lifting them with tape, and then either looking through an electronic database or through hard-copy catalogs for a match. ArroGen Group, a forensic company located in North Carolina and the U.K., has created a new “…powder that contains sub-micron particles that adhere to the amino and fatty acids in fingerprint residue.” The process uses a mass spectrometer to scan the print; this process can determine the sex of the individual and whether or not the individual: use(s/d) drugs, smokes, or had touch either a gun or explosives. Not impressed yet? The new process of fingerprint analysis can identify all of that even if the fingerprint was left up to a month ago. How does it work you ask? Like this: “Scientists sprinkle the powder on the print at the crime scene, then remove it from the crime scene using lift tape. The samples are sealed and brought to the lab, where they are put into a mass spectrometer…it vaporizes and ionizes the particles in the powder and molecules in the fingerprint residue, enabling the machine to detect molecular profiles in the residue”. The new powder is more sensitive when analyzed; the mass spectrometer can pick up data in the presence of small amounts of material. To read the whole article (and I highly advise you do) click here: http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/security/a17172/your-fingerprints-are-about-to-reveal-a-lot-more-about-you/
Okay, so if you don’t find forensic science interesting, I’m sorry. May I just say that this is really cool? I’ve used the old fingerprinting powder before, it is really easy to smudge. Also, with the old fingerprinting analysis all you could do was use the print to identify a person; if you didn’t have their print to compare to, well you were kind of out of luck then. How cool is it that now the police can take print found at a scene and figure out if it belongs to a man or a woman? If the person did drugs (and a specific drug non the less)? If the person smokes? Or if they’ve been around a gun or explosives? I’m hoping to become a forensic scientist; even though I don’t know what I want to specialize in yet, I have to admit that this makes me super excited.