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Trace evidence


Small amounts of chemicals, such as gunshot residue or explosives, can remain on a suspect’s hands or clothing. Bits of fiber, strands of hair, flecks of paint, or shards of glass are also often left at a crime scene or carried away from it. These are examples of trace evidence, and forensic scientists can use them to link items or suspects to a crime.


We develop methods for accurately detecting, measuring, and analyzing very small fragments and quantities of evidence, and we produce standard reference materials and data to help forensic laboratories validate the accuracy of their methods and measurements.

News and Updates

Projects and Programs

Measurement Standards

The use of standards is considered a critical component in the assurance of analytical quality, allowing reliable measures of detection limits, accuracy, and


Measurements and Standards for Bulk-Explosive Detection

Lawrence T. Hudson, Fred B. Bateman, Paul M. Bergstrom, Frank Cerra, Jack L. Glover, Ronaldo Minniti, Stephen M. Seltzer, Ronald E. Tosh
Due to the ease of assembly and leveraged disruptive effect, the improvised explosive device (IED) is the method of choice of today’s terrorist. With more than

Explosive Standards Forum Recommendations

William G. Billotte, Sharon B. Nakich
From September 2011 to September 2012, the NIST Law Enforcement Standards Office (OLES), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and



NIST DTSA-II builds on the best available algorithms in the literature to simulate, quantify and plan energy dispersive x-ray analysis measurements.

Tools and Instruments