Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $397,643)
As submitted by the proposer:
The National Research Council has recommended the determination of the underlying scientific basis of forensic testing procedures. Identification failures, particularly of suspects, occur for a variety of reasons. Fingerprint matches are impeachable, with approximately 10% error in repeatability and substantial inter-examiner variability for challenged samples. Both fingerprints and DNA evidence degrade due to environmental insults such as temperature and humidity. This proposal is aimed at using nanotechnology for development of environmentally insulted latent (EIL) fingerprints and analysis of DNA from partial bloody (PB) fingerprints on forensically important substrates. The nanomaterial used in the columnar-thin-film (CTF) has been shown not to be detrimental for short tandem repeat (STR) DNA analysis. A pilot study with 144 fingerprints and post-developmental ageing of prints indicated that nanomaterials in CTF did not produce any noticeably different degradation pattern when compared to undeveloped fingerprints.
The basic-science goals of this project are to determine the currently unknown effects of ageing, relative humidity, and temperature on (i) fingerprint residue emulsion topology, (ii) the CTF development of fingerprints, and (iii) the Human Identity (HID) SNP Genotyper Report from DNA analysis of cellular material in fingerprints. The effects of CTF development on the SNP genotypes will also be determined. The applied-research goals are to determine (i) the adequacy of the CTF development of latent fingerprints subjected to realworld conditions, (ii) to determine concordance and identity from sequence data from EIL and PB fingerprints that have been either CTF-developed or not, and (iii) the efficacy of identity determination from a combination of fingerprint visualization and SNP profile. Finally, the design of a field-deployable CTF system is a subsidiary goal.
The proposed research will be conducted in three phases. In the first phase, five matched pairs of fingerprints on each of seven representative substrates harvested from each of two donors will be aged for one of three durations under one of five combinations of temperature and relative humidity. One member of each pair will be subjected to the nanoscale CTF technique, the other will not be, and then SNP genotypes will be obtained from both members. The shorter second phase will be focused on an analogous study on PB fingerprints. The field-deployable CTF system will be designed in the third phase.
The PI is well versed in forensic DNA analyses. The co-PI is an expert on CTF nanotechnology. A post-doctoral scholar will be the third research personnel involved in this two-year project.
Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.
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