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Forensic Analysis of Bicomponent Fibers Using Infrared Chemical Imaging

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT:

The application of infrared chemical imaging to the analysis of bicomponent fibers was evaluated. Eleven nominally bicomponent fibers were examined either side-on or in cross-section. In six of the 11 samples, infrared chemical imaging was able to spatially resolve two spectroscopically distinct regions when the fibers were examined side-on. As well as yielding characteristic infrared spectra of each component, the technique also provided images that clearly illustrated the side-by-side configuration of these components in the fiber. In one case it was possible to prepare and image a cross-section of the fiber, but in general the preparation of fiber cross-sections proved very difficult. In five of the 11 samples, the infrared spectra could be used to identify the overall chemical composition of the fibers, according to a published classification scheme, but the fiber components could not be spatially resolved. Difficulties that are inherent to conventional “single-point” infrared spectroscopy, such as interference fringing and sloping baselines, particularly when analyzing acrylic type fibers, were also encountered in the infrared chemical image analysis of bicomponent fibers. A number of infrared sampling techniques were investigated to overcome these problems, and recommendations for the best sampling technique are given. Chemical imaging results were compared with those obtained using conventional fiber microscopy techniques.

Keywords: FTIR; bicomponent fibers; chemical imaging; forensic science; hyperspectral imaging; infrared

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2006.00116.x

Affiliations: Centre for Forensic Science, University of Technology, Sydney, PO Box 123, Broadway NSW 2007, Australia.

Publication date: May 1, 2006

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