Microscopic examination of fingermark residues: Opportunities for fundamental studies

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Journal Article
Forensic Science International, 2015, 255 pp. 28 - 37
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© 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. Despite significant ongoing research, a substantial proportion of latent fingermarks remain undetected in casework. Therefore, to improve existing detection techniques and to allow the development of new approaches, it is important to gain a better understanding of detection mechanisms rather than solely focusing on method formulations. As a starting point, it is crucial to gain a deeper understanding of the fingermark residue itself. Even if the chemical composition is reasonably well understood, little research has been reported on the physical aspects related to the deposition of fingermarks and their interactions with the environment and underlying substrates.This study aimed at exploring various techniques that can be used for the non-destructive visualisation of fingermarks before applying detection techniques. Both light and electron microscopy were investigated. Phase contrast imaging and environmental scanning electron microscopy, coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry, proved to be essential tools for the study of latent fingermark deposits. These methods can be used to gather fundamental information that will add to our body of knowledge in this field.
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