Dusting For Prints: Fuhgedaboutit!

Dusting for prints

Are the days of camel hair and nylon brushes, fingerprint powder, and iodine fuming nearing extinction? Well, Chinese scientists Su Chen, Shengyang Yang, and Cai-Feng Wang certainly think so. In fact, they’ve developed a remarkable new technique for developing fingerprints. And the process is extremely quick and doesn’t destroy the prints during developing. Just how fast can prints be developed using the new technique? Well, believe it or not, latent prints become visible within 30 seconds.

Chen, Yang, and Wang, all from China’s Nanjing University of Technology, found that by electrospinning nanosized fibers from a polyurethane resin and the dye fluorescein, they could create a mat that could rapidly detect latent fingerprints on surfaces including glass, plastics, and wood.

To locate hidden prints, all a technician needs to do is simply press the mat against a surface. Then, when exposed to the chemical components in sweat left behind in fingerprints, the fluorescein in the mat reacts, coming out (changing from the mat’s yellowish color to a brilliant red) as a powdery solid in a perfect likeness of the print. Hot air is used to speed up the process.

The 12x50cm mats are not reusable once exposed to a fingerprint, but can be divided into sections for multiple uses.

Interestingly, the mat is capable of detecting more than just fingerprints. The dragon image in the image above was made by an ink jet printer using water (water causes the same reaction as the sweat components) instead of ink. The mat was placed over the image and the result was what you see in the photo.

So, 30 second fingerprints and 1 hour DNA are soon to be the latest additions in a detective’s toolbox. I think we just might see overtime pay joining fingerprint brushes and ninhydrin on the endangered species list. Maybe we’re not too far from seeing an instant crook-catching machine. So, with all the new changes in crime-solving, what will cops do with all their spare time? Hey, maybe they’ll take up writing.

Spare time? Fuhgedaboutit!

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2 replies
  1. PatMarin
    PatMarin says:

    Lee, can you imagine who much this is going to help Lanie on Castle with her ME job? LOL Sorry, couldn’t resist. That was the first thought that popped in to my head.

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