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Visualization of Latent Fingermark Corrosion of Brass, Climatic Influence in a Comparison Between the U.K. and Iraq


  • John W. Bond D.Phil.,

    1. Scientific Support Unit, Northamptonshire Police, Wootton Hall, Northampton NN4 0JQ, U.K.
    2. Forensic Research Centre, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7EA, U.K.
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  • Louis N. Eliopulos B.A.,

    1. Forensic Consultant Division, U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, NCIS Headquarters, Washington, DC 20388-5380.
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  • Thomas F. Brady M.F.S.

    1. Regional Forensic Consultant, U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, PO Box 58, Jacksonville, FL 32212.
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Additional information and reprint requests:
John W. Bond, D.Phil.
Scientific Support Unit
Northamptonshire Police
Wootton Hall
Northampton NN4 0JQ


Abstract:  Through a comparison of fingermark sweat corrosion of α phase brass in both the U.K. and Iraq, we show how samples from Iraq have improved fingermark corrosion over U.K. samples that require no additional enhancement prior to visualization. Over 50% of Iraqi samples produced fingermark corrosion with full ridge detail compared with 0% from the U.K. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analysis of the fingermark corrosion products showed that Iraqi samples exhibit more dezincification with the Zn:Cu ratio averaging 1:1.82 compared with 1:3.07 for U.K. samples. Auger spectroscopy showed the presence of both zinc oxide and copper (I) oxide. No copper (II) was observed on the surface of the corroded brass. Opportunities to exploit the optical properties of these thin film oxides to enhance the visualization of fingermark corrosion are considered, and the potential to use fingermark corrosion of metal as a means of visualizing fingerprints in war zones is discussed.