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Australian science agency develops new fingerprint ID technique


Australia’s national science agency Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has developed a new method of identifying invisible fingerprints — a technique which could be used by law enforcement agencies, according to a report by Computerworld.

The method, which was developed by CSIRO materials scientist Dr. Kang Liang, involves adding a drop of liquid containing crystals to the area under inspection.

The procedure enables forensic investigators to view the ‘glow’ of invisible fingerprints using a UV light.

The luminescent effect generates contrast between the fingerprint and surface, enabling investigators to capture higher resolution photos for analysis, said Liang.

The new fingerprinting method could be used for more complex evidence in situations where the regular ‘dusting’ technique is not appropriate.

“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,” said Dr. Liang. “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.”

In a series of experiments, CSIRO researchers applied the fingerprinting technique to various surfaces including window and wine glass, metal blades and plastic light switches, with successful results.

“When my house was broken into I saw how common practice fingerprinting is for police,” said Liang. “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. As far as we know, it’s the first time that these extremely porous metal organic framework (MOF) crystals have been researched for forensics.”

MOF crystals also offer its share of benefits, including being relatively inexpensive, their rapid response rate and ability to emit a bright light. Additionally, the method does not create any dust or fumes, which cuts down on waste and risk of inhalation.

CSIRO is currently seeking to partner with law enforcement agencies to apply the new method.

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