U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Determining Fingerprint Age With Mass Spectrometry Imaging via Ozonolysis of Triacylglycerols

NCJ Number
Paige Hinners, Madison Thomas, Young Jin Lee
Date Published
January 2020
7 pages
This work investigated the ambient aging of triacylglycerols (TGs) and other lipids in latent fingerprint residue, utilizing matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry imaging.
Despite the common use of fingerprints as a trusted means of identification, no method currently exists to reliably establish the time since deposition of latent fingerprints. A reproducible method of establishing latent fingerprint age would allow forensic personnel to determine whether a latent fingerprint was relevant to a crime. In the current study, unsaturated TGs were found to undergo ambient ozonolysis, resulting in a decrease over time. At the same time, two series of compounds related to the degradation of unsaturated TGs due to ambient ozonolysis emerged with time and were detectable within a single day of aging. Tracking the degradation of unsaturated TGs over time proved to be relatively reproducible in multiple individuals and is suggested as a means of establishing latent fingerprint age. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020