Law enforcement agencies trialing technology that analyzes chemical residues on fingerprints

Several US law enforcement agencies, such as Guilford County Sheriff’s Department in North Carolina, are testing ArroGen Group’s new fingerprint technology to analyze chemical residues on fingerprints taken from a suspect or from latent prints left at crime scenes, according to a report by Popular Mechanics.

The Fingerprint Molecular Identification (FMID) process uses special silica-based powders to capture and analyze fingerprint residues for a variety of factors, and ultimately creating a molecular profile of criminal suspects.

Investigators using this technology will be able to eliminate certain crime scene prints from the get-go, enabling them to send out fewer samples to be tested for DNA which will save both time and money.

The technology uses surface-engineered, silica-based SupraNano powders to capture chemical residues on fingerprints and mass spectrometry to analyze the residues.

Though scientists have previously used powders to develop fingerprints, ArroGen’s use of SupraNano powders produce clearer, high-contrast images with less background staining.

Using the FMID process, law enforcement agencies are able to successfully reveal a suspect’s gender, use of tobacco, medicines and illicit drugs, and exposure to explosives.

ArroGen said it is able to detect this information up to a month after a fingerprint has been left. Additionally, the team is testing for the ability to read fingerprints left as long as a year ago.

“FMID will give investigators, prosecutors and government agencies a powerful new tool for human identification,” said ArroGen CEO Michael Heffernan. “This unprecedented technology will empower their investigations and intelligence-gathering with indisputable scientific evidence, saving time and money.”

ArroGen’s FMID for nicotine and drug use will be available in the fourth quarter, while FMID applications for gender and explosives will be available in the first quarter of 2016.

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