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Vibrational Spectroscopy: Recent Developments to Revolutionize Forensic Science

NCJ Number
Analytical Chemistry Volume: 87 Issue: 1 Dated: 2015 Pages: 306-327
Date Published
22 pages
This article presents a critical review of forensic developments made in the field of vibrational spectroscopy since 2012.

Forensic science is intimately involved in judicial systems, and as such it must be completely objective and reliable. Because forensics is so diverse and extensive, it can be difficult to hold the entire field to this standard. The National Academy of Sciences published a report outlining the current state of forensic science in the United States, including issues being faced and necessary changes (National Research Council: Washington, DC, 2009). The committee described that, given the nature of forensic science and its implications on the criminal justice system, there are specific features that methods must possess, and others that must be avoided. In order to prevent bias from an investigator, analyst, or expert witness, methods should be quantitative and have an associated statistical confidence, so that the likelihood of error can be objectively estimated. It would also be ideal for analyses to be automated and cost-effective to maximize efficiency. Raman and infrared (IR) spectroscopy are becoming increasingly more popular in forensic science. Both methods are non-destructive, rapid, quantitative, and confirmatory. Raman spectroscopy, in particular, is known for its intrinsically selective nature. It has also been suggested that it is "suited to be the process control star of the next century" (Vickers and Mann in Handbook of Raman Spectroscopy; CRC Press, 2001). These qualities, along with their automated capabilities, make Raman and IR spectroscopy model techniques according to the requirements outlined by the National Academy of Science. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2015