This eighth episode of the 2019 R&D season of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Dr. Igor Lednev, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Albany, who discusses the use of Raman Microspectroscopy and advanced statistics for detecting and characterizing gunshot residue (GSR).
Background information notes that Raman Spectroscopy is considered one of the most selective spectroscopic techniques due to the unique structural fingerprint that it produces from a sample material. Dr. Lednev and his team at the University of Albany are now using Raman Microspectroscopy to detect and characterize gunshot residue. In this interview, Dr. Lednev explains how Raman Spectroscopy works and the impact it will have on GSR analysis. In testing for GSR, Dr. Lednev's team uses both Raman Microspectroscopy and Fluorescent Microspectroscopy to produce a GSR profile that identifies both organic and inorganic material in the GSR. He notes the role of both firearm type and ammunition type in determining the composition of GSR. This was taken into account when attempting to match a particular GSR sample with a particular firearm. Dr, Lednev also discusses his team's use of a statistical analysis that yields a confidence level for a decision about a particular firearm having produced the GSR analyzed. The collection of a GSR sample for testing is also discussed.