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NANOTRACE: Applications of Subvisible to Nanoscale Particles in Trace Evidence

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2018
19 pages
This project developed approaches for the isolation, analysis, and interpretation of "subvisible" particles (10 nm to 100mm), which would effectively equate the sensitivity of trace evidence to that of DNA analysis.

This research focused on developing a framework upon which a typical forensic laboratory could improve its ability to find, handle, analyze, and interpret the significance of smaller particles in a practical manner. Sections of this report discuss various sub-projects conducted under this grant, the specific approach, an overview of the results, and the deliverables from each. Several different materials were explored, including glass micro spheres, toner particles, 3D printer dust, and free titanium dioxide. Reasons for the selection of each of these particle types are explained. In addition to the particle-specific analyses, a forensic case study was performed as an example of how a forensic lab may begin to incorporate subvisible particles into current schemes of analysis. The case study involved the investigation of a subvisible paint particle. The research team believes that its research provides a foundation that enables immediate application to forensic casework and provides guidance to trace evidence laboratories when considering the next generation of laboratory equipment purchases. The fluorescent tracer work provides guidance for police and other investigators in the better use of fluorescent tracer spray. Scholarly products from this research are listed in the appendix.

Date Published: December 1, 2018