Clever inventions can speed up forensics

Solve crime faster with glowing fingerprints and smart cotton buds. In short, that is the ambition of Martin Bennink and Jaap Knotter of Saxion University of Applied Sciences. Their finding can have a major influence on forensic investigations carried out by the police.

The new techniques are still under development. The intention is to arrive at a method that can accurately determine when a fingerprint found has been left behind. This is done with nanoparticles, also known as quantum dots. These particles can be bound to substances found in fingerprints. These substances change over time because certain proteins in them gradually disappear. The quantum dots cannot be seen themselves, but they do emit light. The color of the light indicates how old the fingerprint is. This fact can be very important in collecting the burden of proof.

Smart cotton swab
Another invention is a smart cotton swab to secure traces. Forensic experts currently use regular cotton swabs to take DNA, for example. Part of the material is lost because it can no longer be removed from the cotton wool. Difficult when there is very little material available. The researchers have now made a rod with a ceramic membrane top. It consists of very small pores of variable size. This makes it possible to filter on the size of the particles. This has the advantage that it often becomes clear at the scene of the crime what kind of substance is involved. The police are very enthusiastic, but indicate that the legal and ethical aspects must be investigated first.

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