Glowing fingerprints are the future
Using Dr Liang’s method the prints glow under UV-light and different colours can be achieved by altering the chemistry. Photo: CSIRO
After CSIRO scientist Dr Kang Liang’s house was broken into, he developed a new fingerprinting technique to catch the bad guys.Vision: CSIRO.
It’s a storyline straight out of CSI Australia.
A young scientist has his home broken into but police can’t find any fingerprints at the scene.
Rather than give up in despair, Dr Kang Liang uses his awesome science powers to develop a new technique that will allow forensics to better capture fingerprints and make them glow at the scene of the crime.
Dr Kang Liang of CSIRO. Photo: Eddie Jim
And while it’s too late to solve his case, by spurring on the CSIRO scientist, the foolish burglar probably did a grave disservice to criminals everywhere.
Materials scientist Dr Liang is now savouring the sweet taste of revenge.
His research, published in the journal Materials Science this week, will allow for forensic police to “dust” for prints using a drop of liquid containing luminescent crystals. Applied to fingerprints, the crystals create a greater contrast between the mark left by a criminal and the surface enabling higher resolution images to be taken for easier and more precise analyses.
The crystals attach themselves to the proteins and peptides of the fingerprint residue and glow under ultraviolet light, making detection even easier.
“While police and forensics experts use a range of different techniques, sometimes in complex cases evidence needs to be sent off to a lab where heat and vacuum treatment is applied,” Dr Liang said.
“Our method reduces these steps, and because it’s done on the spot, a digital device could be used at the scene to capture images of the glowing prints to run through the database in real time.”
“When my house was broken into, and knowing that dusting has been around for a long time, I was inspired to see how new innovative materials could be applied to create even better results,” Dr Liang said.
“As far as we know, it’s the first time that these extremely porous metal organic framework crystals have been researched for forensics.”
The CSIRO is now looking to partner with police forces around the country