Detection of illicit substances in fingerprints by infrared spectral imaging

Springer Heidelberg
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 2009, 394 (8), pp. 2039 - 2048
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FTIR and Raman spectral imaging can be used to simultaneously image a latent fingerprint and detect exogenous substances deposited within it. These substances might include drugs of abuse or traces of explosives or gunshot residue. In this work, spectral searching algorithms were tested for their efficacy in finding targeted substances deposited within fingerprints. "Reverse" library searching, where a large number of possibly poor-quality spectra from a spectral image are searched against a small number of high-quality reference spectra, poses problems for common search algorithms as they are usually implemented. Out of a range of algorithms which included conventional Euclidean distance searching, the spectral angle mapper (SAM) and correlation algorithms gave the best results when used with second-derivative image and reference spectra. All methods tested gave poorer performances with first derivative and undifferentiated spectra. In a search against a caffeine reference, the SAM and correlation methods were able to correctly rank a set of 40 confirmed but poor-quality caffeine spectra at the top of a dataset which also contained 4,096 spectra from an image of an uncontaminated latent fingerprint. These methods also successfully and individually detected aspirin, diazepam and caffeine that had been deposited together in another fingerprint, and they did not indicate any of these substances as a match in a search for another substance which was known not to be present. The SAM was used to successfully locate explosive components in fingerprints deposited on silicon windows. The potential of other spectral searching algorithms used in the field of remote sensing is considered, and the applicability of the methods tested in this work to other modes of spectral imaging is discussed.
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