Cadmium-free quantum dots in aqueous solution: Potential for fingermark detection, synthesis and an application to the detection of fingermarks in blood on non-porous surfaces

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Journal Article
Forensic Science International, 2013, 224 (1-3), pp. 101 - 110
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The use of quantum dots (QDs) in the area of fingermark detection is currently receiving a lot of attention in the forensic literature. Most of the research efforts have been devoted to cadmium telluride (CdTe) quantum dots often applied as powders to the surfaces of interests. Both the use of cadmium and the nano size of these particles raise important issues in terms of health and safety. This paper proposes to replace CdTe QDs by zinc sulphide QDs doped with copper (ZnS:Cu) to address these issues. Zinc sulphide-copper doped QDs were successfully synthesized, characterized in terms of size and optical properties and optimized to be applied for the detection of impressions left in blood, where CdTe QDs proved to be efficient. Effectiveness of detection was assessed in comparison with CdTe QDs and Acid Yellow 7 (AY7, an effective blood reagent), using two series of depletive blood fingermarks from four donors prepared on four non-porous substrates, i.e. glass, transparent polypropylene, black polyethylene and aluminium foil. The marks were cut in half and processed separately with both reagents, leading to two comparison series (ZnS:Cu vs. CdTe, and ZnS:Cu vs. AY7). ZnS:Cu proved to be better than AY7 and at least as efficient as CdTe on most substrates. Consequently, copper-doped ZnS QDs constitute a valid substitute for cadmium-based QDs to detect blood marks on non-porous substrates and offer a safer alternative for routine use. © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
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