Glowing Electrified Fingerprints Are the Future of Forensics

In the future, everything glows, and that includes the fingerprints left behind at the scene of future crimes.

Despite the fact that fingerprints are just about everywhere, they are notoriously hard to see. Tranditional methods of picking them out usually involve some sort of dust or powder, and can sometimes destroy the precious prints in the process of pointing them out. With a process called Electrochemiluminescence, researchers have been able to come up with a new way to see prints: coating them in chemicals and electrifying them until they glow.

The process, as explained over at PhysOrg, works by transferring a print to a sheet of stainless steel which serves as an electrode and coating it with a combination of a ruthenium complex and tripropylamine. Then, when you turn on the juice, the solution will begin to glow. The fatty, greasy matter that makes up the fingerprint blocks the solution from the electrode, so the result is a high-resolution, glowing negative of the fingerprint in question. If you don't want a negative, you just need to whip up a version of the chemical solution that bonds to the fingerprints fatty residue instead of being repelled by it.

In addition to being plain old CSI-grade awesome and glowy, this method creates an extremely high resolution image of the fingerprint in question, providing detail that's especially important if you've only got a partial. The glowing prints are also perfect for shooting with a CCD camera, making the glowing negatives easy to archive. The future is looking bright, and it's probably because of all the glowing fingerprints. [PhysOrg]

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