Even as various investigation agencies struggle to detect the latent fingerprints on luminescent surfaces, a researcher from Panjab University has come up with a modern technique, which is set to replace the traditional method of fingerprint gathering with the help of a nano-phosphor powder he has prepared.
Be it the reflective CD surfaces, currency notes with fluorescent ink, credit cards, highly patterned surfaces like bar-coding on cans, screen of cell phones, curved surface of an optical mouse, or any multi-coloured surface — latent fingerprints on all these can be easily and finely observed with the help of the nano-powder prepared by Dr Vishal Sharma and his two research scholars: Amrita Das and Vinay Kumar.
Dr Sharma, an assistant professor at the Institute of Forensic Science and Criminology, Panjab University, along with his team has prepared a nano-powder, which enables better detection of fingerprints, unlike the conventionally used black powder.
“Fingerprints on normal surfaces are easy to study, but surfaces like currency notes radiate their own luminescence because of usage of luminescent ink, which interferes with the process of fingerprint detection,” says Dr Sharma. “The black and grey powders conventionally used by forensic experts fail to project a clear picture on exposure to UV light, and are not very effective because of the larger size and shape of particles of powder.”
However, the greenish-blue powder prepared by Dr Sharma from nano-phosphor is not only able to give a clear picture of latent fingerprints, but also does not let the background luminescence of the surface affect the fingerprints. “Even the minute variations in fingerprints can be studied, which are very crucial for investigation,” he says.
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Significantly, the powder does not require the prolonged use of UV light, as in the case of conventional powders, and is not at all toxic. “You just need an initial exposure to UV, and then even after switching off the supply, the powder will continue to glow because of the phosphor content, and one can easily capture the images and study them,” adds Dr Sharma.
His achievement has been an outcome of the three-year research project which was awarded to Dr Sharma by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai, in 2011, for which he had received a grant of Rs 16.9 lakh. The scientist was also awarded the Young Scientist Research Award by BARC in the same year.