Effect of substrate surface topography on forensic development of latent fingerprints with iron oxide powder suspension

B. J. Jones, R. Downham, V. G. Sears

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Latent fingerprint deposition and effectiveness of detection are strongly affected by the surface on which prints are deposited. Material properties, surface roughness, morphology, chemistry and hydrophobicity can affect the usefulness or efficacy of forensic print development techniques. Established protocols outline appropriate techniques and sequences of processes for broad categories of operational surfaces. This study uses atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy to investigate a series of surfaces classified as smooth, non-porous plastic. Latent prints developed with iron oxide powder suspension are analysed on a range of scales from macro to nano to help elucidate the interaction mechanisms between the latent fingerprint, development agent and underlying surface. Differences between surfaces have a strong effect, even within this single category. We show that both average roughness and topographical feature shape, characterised by skew, kurtosis and lay, are important factors to consider for the processing of latent fingerprints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-4742
Number of pages4305
JournalSurface and Interface Analysis
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Fingerprints
  • Powder suspension
  • Surface structure
  • Microscopy
  • forensic
  • Latent


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of substrate surface topography on forensic development of latent fingerprints with iron oxide powder suspension'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • Microscopy in forensic science

    Jones, B. J., 17 Sep 2019, Springer handbook of microscopy. Hawkes, P. W. & Spence, J. C. H. (eds.). Cham: Springer, p. 1507-1523 17 p. (Springer Handbooks).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Open Access
    1 Citation (Scopus)
    468 Downloads (Pure)

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