A new process developed by the Penn State Forensic Science department could help detect formerly invisible evidence.
For a long time forensic science techniques have relied on the chemistry of the print to record the topography of traces left at a crime scene. A technique like dusting or even infrared imaging is helpful, but has its limitations when it comes to difficult surfaces and especially when evidence needs to be produced on the spot.
Using a process called “conformal-evaporated-film-by-rotation” to gain insight into intricate patterns on nonporous surfaces, researchers at Pennstate’s Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department worked to develop a method that forms fingerprints by condensing vaporized materials on a thin film to enable forensic professionals to gather better topography results within 15 minutes.
“One benefit of this approach would be the ability to retrieve fingerprints off fragments from incendiary or explosive devices and still be able to analyze the chemicals used in the device… The coating material is heated in a vacuum, while the artifact to be coated is rotated fairly quickly to allow deposition over the entire surface.”
This enables them to gather evidence first, and convert it chemically later on. The team is currently advancing their research by creating a portable device, that will generate forensic evidence on the scene.