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Innovations in latent fingerprint analysis for forensic applications with matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry imaging

NCJ Number
Kelly O'Neill
Date Published
January 2020
137 pages

This dissertation report presents research that addressed the current limitations of latent fingerprint analysis and discusses innovative ways that matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) could be used to develop techniques that would alleviate some of the current problematic issues.


The feasibility of MALDI-MSI for the analysis of latent fingerprints was explored by testing the compatibility of cyanoacrylate fuming, a common fingerprint development technique, with MALDI-MSI. This was done by comparing signal intensities and MS images of various compounds with and without cyanoacrylate fuming. While studying cyanoacrylate-fumed fingerprints, cyanoacrylate dimer and trimer peaks were identified and helped lead to a better understanding of the cyanoacrylate fuming mechanism. An attempt was made at age determination of latent fingerprints, and the major complication that comes with using the diffusion of endogenous compounds to model the age of fingerprints was also discussed. The surface interactions have a significant role in the rate of diffusion, skewing any potential model. TG profiles from latent fingerprints were used to differentiate between individuals and determine information about their diet/exercise routine and whether or not they have diabetes. Vegetarian diets resulted in higher levels of saturated TGs compared to ketogenic and unrestricted diets. Exercise lowered the relative abundance of saturated TGs in males, but not in females. Due to the variations from diet and exercise, it was difficult to reach conclusions about the effect of diabetes on the TG profile; however, general trends suggested diabetics may have higher than average levels of saturated TGs. 20 figures, 1 table, and chapter references


Date Published: January 1, 2020