Nano-scale analysis of titanium dioxide fingerprint-development powders

A. J. Reynolds, B. J. Jones, V. Sears, V. Bowman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Titanium dioxide based powders are regularly used in the development of latent fingerprints on dark surfaces. For analysis of prints on adhesive tapes, the titanium dioxide is suspended in a surfactant and used in the form of a small particle reagent (SPR). Analysis of commercially available products shows varying levels of effectiveness of print development, with some powders adhering to the background as well as the print. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images of prints developed with different powders show a range of levels of aggregation of particles. Analytical transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of the fingerprint powder shows TiO 2 particles with a surrounding coating, tens of nanometres thick, consisting of Al and Si rich material. X ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) is used to determine the composition and chemical state of the surface of the powders; with a penetration depth of approximately 10nm, this technique demonstrates differing Ti: Al: Si ratios and oxidation states between the surfaces of different powders. Levels of titanium detected with this technique demonstrate variation in the integrity of the surface coating. The thickness, integrity and composition of the Al/Si-based coating is related to the level of aggregation of TiO 2 particles and efficacy of print development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number012069
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Physics: Conference Series
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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