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Fingerprints Part IV. Print Development Methods . Fingerprints and DNA DNA from fingerprints. For DNA analysis to be successful, try to collect at least 100pg of DNA Each cell has about 6pg Need about 100/6 = 16 cells Most fingerprints have < 100pg

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Fingerprints part iv

FingerprintsPart IV

Print Development Methods

Fingerprints and DNA

DNA from fingerprints.

For DNA analysis to be successful, try to collect at least 100pg of DNA

Each cell has about 6pg

Need about 100/6 = 16 cells

Most fingerprints have < 100pg

Only about 20% of fingerprints have sufficient amounts of DNA

Fingerprints and DNA

Create Secondary Powder Source by removing

Powder from original container to secondary container

  • British studied powder dusting on ability to obtain usable DNA profiles.

  • Lifting using traditional lifting methods – tape and gels - does not quantitatively capture the DNA.

    • After lifting, swab lifted area

    • to collect remaining cellular material.

  • Can still get DNA profiles using sensitive DNA analysis techniques from lift and swabs taken from the lifted area.

  • Probably no relationship between amount of fingerprint residue present and amount of DNA present.

    • Related to a person’s ability to shed cellular material.

      • Referred to as shedders

Take Powder from

Secondary Source

Original Powder Source

Secondary Powder Source

  • Slim possibility of contaminating a fingerprint’s DNA with another after using the same brush and powder …

  • Use clean brushes and fresh powder between dusting.

  • Do not mix used and fresh dusting powder by releasing the used powder into the original reservoir.

Wet dry surfaces small particle reagent spr
Wet/dry Surfaces Small Particle Reagent (SPR)

Suspension of molybdenum sulfide grains

  • Size of crystalline particles is critical

    • In mild detergent solution (Kodak Photoflo or 1 drop of Dawn in Quart)

  • Alternatives to molybdenum

    • Iron oxide

      • employed with varying success

    • Zinc carbonate

      • tried on dark surfaces (particle size important)

    • Some fluorescent compounds, too

Two fingerprints on a car, developed with SPR.

Works well on non-porous dry surfaces

  • Plastic bags/wax paper/glass/painted surfaces/water-soaked firearms

  • Adheres to fatty components of latent

  • Used in a sequence approach

  • Used for items cannot be dried prior to processing

  • Useful for sticky-side development

Vacuum methods vacuum metal deposition vmd columnar thin films ctf
Vacuum MethodsVacuum metal deposition (VMD) – Columnar Thin Films (CTF)

  • Smooth nonporous surfaces

    • Plastic bags/plastic packaging material/smooth surfaces

    • Drawbacks

      • Equipment is expensive

      • Sample chamber is small

  • Procedure

    • VMD - Evaporates Gold and then Cd or Zn in vacuum chamber

      • Thin metal film deposited onto print

    • CTF – Can work with other methods – Superglue fuming

How VMD Works

Fingerprint ridge

Vacuum Deposited Gold

Vacuum Deposited Zinc or Cadmium

Columnar thin film ctf development a measure of topology
Columnar Thin Film (CTF) Development A Measure of Topology

  • Developed in 2009

    • Lahktakia & Shaler

  • Columnar Thin Films of Deposition Material onto Fingerprint residue

  • Thermal Evaporation of Deposition Material

    • Chalcogenide glass

    • MgF2

    • Gold/Silver

    • AlQ3 – fluorescent

Tops of Columnar Columns

Looking Down on CTF Ridge


Fingerprint Ridge

Superglue fuming
Superglue Fuming

Requires Active Chemical Molecules in Print Residue


Amino Acids


Superglue fuming1
Superglue Fuming

  • Two methods

    • Heat & Humidity vaporization of superglue

    • Vacuum vaporization of superglue



Heat humidity super glue fuming
Heat & Humidity Super Glue Fuming

Heat & Humidity

80% Humidity

Microburst Method of FBI

2-Day Oily Print

Fresh Oily Print

A: Image of a fresh, cyanoacrylate fumed oily print at a 5000~ magnification;

B: SEM image of a cyanoacrylate fumed two-day-old oily print at a 5000~ magnification.

Vacuum superglue fuming
Vacuum Superglue Fuming

  • Developed Watkin & Misner 1990

    • Nat’l Res. Council of Canada

  • Technique

    • Large metal chamber with object to be printed

      • With small quantity of superglue

    • Pressure reduced to 200 mtorr (0.2 torr)

      • Std atmospheric pressure is @ 760 torr (760,000mtorr)

      • Accelerates vaporization of superglue

      • Reduces time to deposit reduced about 20 min.

  • Characteristics

    • Prints translucent – weakly

    • Sharper ridge detail & more pore detail

    • More uniform prints

    • Less risk of overdevelopment

    • Vaporization can be used to develop prints not directly exposed

      • Inside of plastic bags

    • Not applicable to:

      • Cans/bottles because they may explode

      • Nothing wet

Visualizing superglue prints
Visualizing Superglue Prints

  • Super Glue Polymer has no significant absorption band

    • Visualizing Superglue Prints

      • Depends on color of object

        • Choose opposite to color of exhibit’s surface

      • Using Light

        • ALS

          • White light or 450nm for initial examination

            • May need oblique lighting

        • Reflective UV light

        • RUVIS

          • Light ridges against dark background

      • Staining – fluorescent dyes

      • Dusting – various powders

  • Instrumentation

    • SceneScope- imager uses intensified UV reflectance instead of fluorescence

      • Not an ALS (Alternate light Source)

    • Detects fingerprints (and footwear impressions) on most non-porous surfaces prior to any treatment or after cyanoacrylate fuming.

Visualizing superglue fumed prints enhancement with fluorescent stains
Visualizing Superglue Fumed PrintsEnhancement with Fluorescent Stains

  • Solvent for fluorescent stain is important

    • Must soften the polymer

      • Allows penetration of stain without damaging the print image

    • Water rinse after staining

    • Preferred for

      • Non-luminescent surfaces

      • Dark and/or multicolored

  • Most popular Dyes

    • Rhodamine 6G

    • Ardrox 970-P10

    • Basic yellow 40

  • Mixtures of Dyes for colored surfaces

    • StarDrox

    • RAM

  • Not suitable for:

    • Porous surfaces

    • Semi-porous surfaces

Always Assume

Prints present on smooth AND the sticky-sides.

  • Tapes are important because routinely used to seal boxes, letters and packaging.

    • Also used to restrain people.

  • Two distinct surfaces, each with unique development issues.

    • Easy for fingers to stick to sticky side of tape - print impression transferred to tape.

    • Latent print can be on smooth side of the tape.

  • Developing fingerprints on the sticky-side of tapes has presented developmental problems. Traditional dusting powder does not work because it sticks to the adhesive and masks prints that might be present.

  • Scientists and investigators developed variety of methods for developing adhesive-side prints.

  • Must determine chemistry of sticky-side of tapes

  • Affects subsequent print development.

  • Rule of thumb

  • Tapes should be collected … preserved … taken to laboratory for print development … especially if tape stuck to itself.

    • Rare instances when this is impossible

    • Un-sticking tape and developing the prints on-scene is necessary.

Adhesive Side Print Development

  • Several techniques available or sticky-side of tapes:

    • Small Particle Reagent (SPR),

    • Black and white WetWop,

    • Sticky-side powder,

    • TapeGloTM,

      • TapeGlo is a fluorescent dye

    • Gentian violet,

      • Gentian violet (Basic Yellow 3): stains fats.

    • Iron oxide powder-based suspension and others

  • Powder-based suspensions in a dilute detergent solution.

  • No Technique develops prints on all adhesives all of the time

  • Tape adhesives categorized: Rubber or acrylic-based

  • Chemically, adhesives differ … why powder suspensions and chemical formulation development techniques work with one type of tape and not another.

    • Masking tape represents a third category … Porosity creates problems for print development.

  • Spot Testing Adhesives

  • Apply a toothpick-sized but clear spot of black or white powder suspension to a section of the tape that is less likely to have been handled.

    • Wash the spot and only that area of the tape with tap water until the excess powder is gone.

  • If powder remains on the spot, the adhesive is PROBABLY acrylic-based and should be developed using an aqueous version of Basic Violet 3 (Gentian Violet).

  • If the tape is visible through after washing the test spot, it is probably a rubber-based adhesive and should be developed using powder

Tapes sticky side
Tapes – Sticky Side

  • Rubber-based adhesives –

    • Use powder suspensions

      • SPR

      • WetWop

      • Iron Oxide suspension

      • SPR

  • Acrylic-based adhesives –

    • Basic Violet 3




  • TapeGlo™ :

    • A fluorescent dye.

      • Contains no hazardous or flammable liquids

      • No fume hood is required

      • Shelf life is approximately six months

  • Pour TapeGlo™ into a dipping tray or spray on the adhesive surface.

  • Fluoresces best when viewed between 488nm and 540nm.

Removing Tape from its Substrate

  • Physical processes.

  • Pulling apart:

    • Fastest method … causes least damage to the underlying prints. Tedious and there is always the possibility of distorting the tape … alter underlying prints if surfaces – tape and surface – are tightly bound.

    • Not recommended without a good reason.

  • Cooling (Freezer)

    • Many recommend cooling to un-stick from surfaces OR to un-stick them from themselves. … Freezing using liquid nitrogen or a microcircuit freezing spray. … Cool below the adhesive’s critical ‘glass transition temperature.’ … liquid nitrogen … dry ice. Adhesive solidifies … gently and slowly pulled from the surface or from the sticky-side of an adhering adhesive. Essentially the frozen adhesive ‘fractures’ from the surface to which it is bound.

  • Freezer Spray

    • Tantamount to freezing. Electronics industry use these sprays … replace liquid nitrogen for separating adhesives from various surfaces … except from other adhesives. Temperature in the -65oF range, so precautions are necessary: wearing appropriate PPE: gloves, face mask, protective clothing.

  • Solvents.

    • Hydrocarbon-based solvents recommended for adhesives stuck to other adhesives: UnDoTM. Slow and tedious … use tiny amounts of solvent because too much will dissolve the adhesive and ruin prints.

  • Freezer Spray

    • For localized, small areas of tape.

    • Method of choice for removing adhesive tapes from plastic bags and other plastic material.

      • Will freeze skin – use thermal gloves.

      • Not for removing adhesive from paper, cardboard or from adhesives adhering to adhesives.

    • Solvents:

      • Removing adhesives from adhesives using solvents should be done carefully.

      • Alternative method for disengaging adhesives from paper and cardboard and for separating adhesives from adhesives.

    Super glue for adhesive surfaces
    Super Glue for Adhesive Surfaces

    • Super glue fume prints on the smooth side of tape before working on the adhesive side.

      • Fingerprints on smooth side destroyed during cooling with Freezer Spray by condensation

      • Super glue fuming can develop prints on both the smooth and adhesive side of tapes.

      • After developing smooth-side with superglue, photograph then lift

        • Then use freezer spray.

    • Low-level fuming (vacuum)

      • Fluorescent staining

        • Basic Yellow 40 staining

        • RAM

        • An alternate for gentian violet

        • SPR after SG fuming

        • Powder dusting

      • Sticky-side Development

        • Variable success

          • Type of tape

          • Thickness

          • Consistency of the adhesive

        • Easily overdeveloped

          • Loss of print detail & poor contrast

    Special situations bloody fingerprints
    Special SituationsBloody Fingerprints

    • Considerations

      • DNA

      • How fingerprint made:

        • Contaminated with blood or already on surface developed by the blood

          • Positive or negative print?

          • Pre-existing sebaceous prints repel blood

          • Sebaceous (greasy) print

            • Blood repelled by ridges & accumulates in furrows

      • Ridge detail may not be sufficiently defined for comparison

        • Use protein stain reagent

          • Most do not interfere with DNA

    Bloody fingerprints chemical enhancement protein staining reagents
    Bloody FingerprintsChemical Enhancement – Protein Staining Reagents

    • Procedure

      • Sprayed or squirted from wash bottle or immersion

      • May require de-staining using organic solvents

    • Protein staining reagents

      • Amido Black 10B (Naphthol blue black B)

        • Organic formulation

          • Immersion 30 seconds

          • Washing in organic solvents (methanol)

          • Ethanol/water wash solution is field useable

          • Blue/black stains

        • Aqueous formulation

      • Coomassie Blue R250

        • Less hazardous

        • Can be used with gel lifters after impregnating with dye

      • Possible alternatives

        • Acid Violet 17 (coomassie brilliant violet)

        • Benzoxanthene yellow (luminescence in weak blood)

    Bloody fingerprint photographed on human

    skin with the aid of an alternate light source.

    Sequence detection prints in blood
    Sequence DetectionPrints in Blood

    Dark or Shiny




    Observe via

    Diffused reflection


    Observe via

    Absorption (415nm)


    Visible as light ridges

    Against dk. bkgrnd

    Visible as dark ridges

    Against light Bkgrnd


    Examine in

    Luminescence Mode


    Protein Stain

    Acid Violet 17 or Amido Black


    Partial bloody print developed with crystal violet left ctf
    Partial Bloody Print Developed with Crystal Violet (left) & CTF ®

    Partial Bloody Print Developed

    with Coomassie Blue