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Comparative Study of Electrochromic Enhancement of Latent Fingerprints with Existing Development Techniques


  • Financial support provided by the Northamptonshire Police, the University of Leicester, and EMDA/ERDF.

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A. Robert Hillman
Department of Chemistry
University of Leicester
University Road
Leicester LE1 7RH


Abstract:  To address the challenge of capturing latent fingerprint evidence from metal surfaces, a new method of latent fingerprint enhancement based on electrochromic polymer films has recently been developed. Here, we present a study comparing the development and visualization of nonvisible fingerprints on stainless steel substrates using this electrochromic enhancement approach with three classical methods (dusting, wet powder, and cyanoacrylate fuming). Two variants of the electrochromic enhancement method were utilized with polyaniline and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) as the electrochromic materials. Fingerprint samples were taken from different donors (varying in age and gender) and were exposed to different environments for systematically varied periods of time (up to 28 days). The environments represent plausible evidential scenarios: left under ambient conditions, washed with aqueous soap solution, washed with acetone, submerged in water, and maintained at elevated temperature. The electrochromic enhancement procedure frequently outperformed the traditional methods, particularly for samples exposed to more challenging histories.