New fingerprint analysis system can identify condom brands
A new technology developed by teams from Sheffield Hallam University and West Yorkshire Police, can detect the brand of hair gel used by a suspected criminal or whether they had used a condom by analyzing their fingerprints. The technique, known as mass spectrometry can also reveal traces of food, alcohol and drugs handled by the individual. Scheduled to be put in use within a couple of months, this technology is to be used to crack difficult cases.
Speaking to the press, project lead Dr Simona Francese said ‘I would want to see this technology in high-profile cases such a murder or rape. It’s very sophisticated, it’s expensive but it’s worthwhile. ‘When you think about what a fingerprint is, it’s nothing else but sweat and sweat is a biological matrix.”
According to her, fingerprints not only contain molecules from your body, but also molecules of anything you’ve “contaminated” with your fingers. She believes that fingerprints can help in retrieving a great of information.
This technology can also be used to determine the lifestyle of criminals and was successfully tested on a 30-year-old where the technology detected blood on the fingerprint. It can also tell if the suspect is male or female by analyzing the proteins found on the print.
According to the BBC, mass spectrometry works by finding and analyzing traces of substances found on fingerprints. The sample is vaporized and then fired through an electric and magnetic field inside a vacuum. Different particles found on the fingerprint behave differently which enables researchers to identify the molecules.
A lot of other elements can be identified by using mass spectrometry. By analyzing fingerprints using this mass spectrometry, it is possible to determine if someone has taken drugs such as cocaine, THC, heroin, amphetamine and others. Traces of cleaning products, cosmetics, condoms and lubricants can also be discovered to such an extent, that researchers can even tell the brand. Strands of hair and traces of food and drinks can also be found out.