Thursday, 19 March 2009

New fingerprinting technology heats up forensics

Two student scientists have developed a new fingerprint imaging technique that uses heat to produce images cheaply and effectively.

While current methods rely on dyes and chemicals to stain fingerprints, the new technique requires only the application of heat to produce images in a matter of seconds.

The technique was accidentally discovered by honours students Adam Brown and Daniel Sommerville, both of the University of Technology, Sydney.

"Originally the aim was to make fingerprints coloured using chemicals," said Brian Reedy, a senior lecturer at the University, "but the students noticed that the application of heat alone could actually develop fingerprints."

"Our team refined the thermal technique, exposing fingerprints to hot air with temperatures of up to 300 degrees Celsius for periods of 10 to 20 seconds, which produced well-defined images."

"We also observed that after shorter heating times, fluorescent prints could be observed," he said.

Besides Brown and Sommerville's work, there has been little research done regarding the application of heat to fingerprints to date, as heat generally is considered impractical and inferior to other fingerprint imaging techniques, Reedy explained.

More information is available from the University of Technology, Sydney's press release.

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