Scientists learn to date fingerprints based on chemical proportions

Scientists at the Netherlands Forensics Institute have discovered a method for dating fingerprints that they say can date latent fingerprints within one to two days.

According to a report in Cnet, this kind of calculation is a possibility, provided the print is less than 15 days old.

Previously, notes the Cnet report, researchers tried to use the amounts of biomaterial present in fingerprints (amino acids, chlorides, fatty acids and triglycerides, to be exact), but have now found that a better and more effective way to date prints is to examine the relative proportions of these chemicals.

This research has some obvious law enforcement applications, including knowing precisely when a suspect was at a crime scene, or knowing which prints could be ruled out of an investigation based on the time they were left. Though this is a forensics discovery, chemical analysis could be something that makes its way into biometric fingerprint identification technologies, as more is learned of their unique chemical composition.

The Biometrics Research Group has estimated that law enforcement spending on forensic and missing persons DNA biometrics database programs will total approximately $750 million next year.

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