Variation in amino acid and lipid composition of latent fingerprints

Ruth S. Croxton*, Mark G. Baron, David Butler, Terry Kent, Vaughn G. Sears

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The enhancement of latent fingerprints, both at the crime scene and in the laboratory using an array of chemical, physical and optical techniques, permits their use for identification. Despite the plethora of techniques available, there are occasions when latent fingerprints are not successfully enhanced. An understanding of latent fingerprint chemistry and behaviour will aid the improvement of current techniques and the development of novel ones. In this study the amino acid and fatty acid content of 'real' latent fingerprints collected on a non-porous surface was analysed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Squalene was also quantified in addition. Hexadecanoic acid, octadecanoic acid and cis-9-octadecenoic acid were the most abundant fatty acids in all samples. There was, however, wide variation in the relative amounts of each fatty acid in each sample. It was clearly demonstrated that touching sebum-rich areas of the face immediately prior to fingerprint deposition resulted in a significant increase in the amount of fatty acids and squalene deposited in the resulting 'groomed' fingerprints. Serine was the most abundant amino acid identified followed by glycine, alanine and aspartic acid. The significant quantitative differences between the 'natural' and 'groomed' fingerprint samples seen for fatty acids were not observed in the case of the amino acids. This study demonstrates the variation in latent fingerprint composition between individuals and the impact of the sampling protocol on the quantitative analysis of fingerprints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-102
Number of pages10
JournalForensic Science International
Volume199
Issue number1-3
Early online date21 Apr 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes

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