Revisiting the thermal development of latent fingerprints on porous surfaces: New aspects and refinements

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2009, 54 (1), pp. 114 - 121
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Although the ability to develop latent fingerprints on paper using heat alone has been noted previously, it has been considered impractical for casework and inferior to other techniques. Here a new refinement of the technique is demonstrated for the high quality development of latent fingerprints on porous surfaces such as paper. Fingerprints deposited on various papers were developed by exposing them to hot air with a temperature in the vicinity of 300°C, for periods of c. 10-20 sec. Several different heating methods were tested. The novel observation was made that after shorter heating times, fluorescent prints could be observed. These became visible after longer heating times, as noted by earlier workers, but with greatly improved contrast compared with their results. Prints from various donors (and aged prints) were developed with excellent ridge contrast. Direct heating methods (such as with a hot plate or press) produced inferior results. The refined technique, which is simple, safe and inexpensive compared with conventional methods, has great potential for use in forensic laboratories. © 2008 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
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