Oxidative Degradation of Fingerprints

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date

April 2016

Faculty Sponsor

Dale Russell


Fingerprints deposited at crime scenes are useful evidence for identifying people who have been there. Fingerprints can remain on surfaces for a long time and there is presently no method to determine age without destroying the print. Here, we explore the quantifiable aging effects of time on fingerprint oil and sweat. Using both standard synthetic sweat and synthesized eccrine oil mixture, Raman spectroscopy was used to measure oxidation and degradation of prints over time. The hypothesis is that oxidative degradation occurs at the unsaturated sites of the oils and causes quantifiable changes in the composition. This should lead to a method for determining fingerprint age. We present Raman spectra of samples at time intervals showing the changes that occur. Raman offers the best method for this analysis because field portable instruments are commercially available making non-destructive field measurements possible.

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