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Keywords:

  • forensic science;
  • latent fingermark;
  • cyanoacrylate fuming;
  • vacuum metal deposition;
  • nanoparticle;
  • microscopy;
  • superglue;
  • friction ridge impression;
  • fingerprints

Abstract:  Vacuum metal deposition (VMD) has been previously demonstrated as an effective development technique for latent fingermarks and in some cases has been shown to enhance prints developed with cyanoacrylate (CA) (superglue) fuming. This work utilizes scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to investigate the interactions of the two development techniques when applied to latent fingermarks on low-density polyethylene. CA is shown to act principally on the eccrine deposits around sweat pores, where polymerization results in long polymer fibrils a few 100 nm in width. Subsequent VMD processing results in additional areas of development, for example, between pores. However, the primary mode of deposition of zinc is by interaction with the polymerized CA, the fibrils of which become decorated with zinc nanoparticles. Areas with limited CA deposition and no significant polymerization are also enhanced with the VMD process, resulting in increased print development.