Determining the order of deposition of natural latent fingerprints and laser printed ink using chemical mapping with secondary ion mass spectrometry

Nicola Attard Montalto, Jesús J. Ojeda, Benjamin J. Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) chemical mapping was used to investigate the order of deposition of natural latent fingerprints and laser printed ink on paper. This feasibility study shows that sodium, potassium and C3H5 positive ions were particularly abundant endogenous components of the natural fingerprints and also present in the paper examined, but were mostly absent in the laser printed ink. Mapping of these ions enables the observation of friction ridges from latent prints on the ink surface, only when a fingerprint was deposited above the layer of ink. As a demonstration of proof of concept, blind testing of 21 samples from three donors resulted in a 100% success rate. The sensitivity of this technique was investigated within this trial through the examination of up to fifth depletion fingerprints and ageing of up to 28days. Migration of fingerprint and paper components to the ink surface, although observed with increased ageing time, was not found to compromise determination of the deposition sequence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-7
Number of pages6
JournalScience and Justice
Issue number1
Early online date2 Jul 2012
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


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