Fingermark initial composition and aging using Fourier transform infrared microscopy (μ-FTIR)

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Forensic Science International, 2015, 254 pp. 185 - 196
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© 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. This study investigated fingermark residues using Fourier transform infrared microscopy (μ-FTIR) in order to obtain fundamental information about the marks' initial composition and aging kinetics. This knowledge would be an asset for fundamental research on fingermarks, such as for dating purposes. Attenuated total reflection (ATR) and single-point reflection modes were tested on fresh fingermarks. ATR proved to be better suited and this mode was subsequently selected for further aging studies. Eccrine and sebaceous material was found in fresh and aged fingermarks and the spectral regions 1000-1850cm-1 and 2700-3600cm-1 were identified as the most informative. The impact of substrates (aluminium and glass slides) and storage conditions (storage in the light and in the dark) on fingermark aging was also studied. Chemometric analyses showed that fingermarks could be grouped according to their age regardless of the substrate when they were stored in an open box kept in an air-conditioned laboratory at around 20°C next to a window. On the contrary, when fingermarks were stored in the dark, only specimens deposited on the same substrate could be grouped by age. Thus, the substrate appeared to influence aging of fingermarks in the dark. Furthermore, PLS regression analyses were conducted in order to study the possibility of modelling fingermark aging for potential fingermark dating applications. The resulting models showed an overall precision of ±3 days and clearly demonstrated their capability to differentiate older fingermarks (20 and 34 days old) from newer ones (1, 3, 7 and 9 days old) regardless of the substrate and lighting conditions. These results are promising from a fingermark dating perspective. Further research is required to fully validate such models and assess their robustness and limitations in uncontrolled casework conditions.
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