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Method for combined biometric and chemical analysis of human fingerprints



Jessica L. Staymates, Shahram Orandi, Matthew E. Staymates, John G. Gillen


This paper describes a method for combining direct chemical analysis of latent fingerprints with subsequent biometric analysis within a single sample. The method described here uses ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) as a chemical detection method for explosives and narcotics trace contamination. A collection swab coated with a high-temperature adhesive has been developed to lift latent fingerprints from various surfaces. The swab is then directly inserted into an IMS instrument for a quick (typically 10 s) chemical analysis. After the IMS analysis, the lifted print remains intact for subsequent biometric scanning and analysis using matching algorithms. Several samples of explosive-laden fingerprints were successfully lifted and the explosives detected with IMS. Following explosive detection, the lifted fingerprints remained of sufficient quality for positive match scores using a prepared database consisting of 60 fingerprints. Based on our results (n=1200), there was no significant decrease in the quality of the lifted print post IMS analysis. In fact, for a small subset of lifted prints, the quality was improved after IMS analysis. The described method can be readily applied to domestic criminal investigations, transportation security, terrorist and bombing threats, and military in-theatre settings.
Forensic Science International


trace detection, biometrics, fingerprints, explosives, narcotics, ion mobility spectrometry


Staymates, J. , Orandi, S. , Staymates, M. and Gillen, J. (2014), Method for combined biometric and chemical analysis of human fingerprints, Forensic Science International, [online], (Accessed July 14, 2024)


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Created June 2, 2014, Updated November 10, 2018