Microscopy in forensic science

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    This chapter examines the use of electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy and other analytical techniques in forensic investigation and research. These tools can be used to enhance examination of human remains and trace evidence to improve understanding of cause of death, victim identification or post mortem interval.

    A police-designed scenario is used to highlight trace evidence such as glass, gun shot residue and paint. The validity of forensic techniques is discussed, with reference to international standards, repeatability, and false convictions. Ballistic evidence is used to highlight the complexities in evidence interpretation, including manufacturing variability, environmental effects and likelihood ratios.

    The use of scanning electron microscopy (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM) and other techniques in the development of forensic research is showcased, with particular examples from the field of fingerprints. Examples include improvements in the development of fingermarks from difficult surfaces, interaction of evidence types, and added intelligence from the crime scene, such as forensic timeline or gender of perpetrator.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSpringer handbook of microscopy
    EditorsPeter W. Hawkes, John C.H. Spence
    Place of PublicationCham
    Number of pages17
    ISBN (Electronic)9783030000691
    ISBN (Print)9783030000684
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2019

    Publication series

    NameSpringer Handbooks
    ISSN (Print)2522-8692
    ISSN (Electronic)2522-8706


    • Forensic science
    • Scanning electron microscope
    • Trace evidence
    • Fingerprints
    • Scenes of crime
    • Gun shot residue
    • Atomic force microscopy (AFM)
    • Microscopy
    • Scanning probe microscopy


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