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A preliminary investigation of a two-step, non-invasive process to determine chronological deposition order of fingerprints and printed ink on paper

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-08-04, 07:26 authored by Roberto S. P. King, Beth McMurchie, Richard Wilson, Paul KellyPaul Kelly

While traditional techniques have long allowed forensic investigators to positively identify fingermarks on documents of interest, understanding the chronological sequence of events that led to their deposition is still seen as a ‘holy grail’ for forensic examinations. By way of example, the question of whether a mark is above or below printed text is crucial. The work herein reveals that a novel application of a recently established fingermark development technique readily allows such differentiation. The process in question allies forensic gelatin lifters with RECOVER, a development system that hinges on the polymerisation of disulfur dinitride. While the latter was specifically developed in its current form for the retrieval of prints from metal surfaces exposed to extreme conditions or washing, its ability to target surface effects allows for visualisation of surface interactions on forensic gelatin lifts. Crucially, in doing so the order in which the lifted material was originally deposited is also revealed. This, therefore, permits clear elucidation of the order of deposition of printed text and fingermarks—and does so both rapidly and in a non-invasive way. This long sought-after capability has the potential to revolutionise forensic document examinations.



  • Science


  • Chemistry

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Scientific Reports




Springer Nature


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This is an Open Access article published by Springer Nature and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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Prof Paul Kelly. Deposit date: 2 August 2022

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