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Thermal Degradation Analysis of Amino Acids in Fingerprint Residue by Pyrolysis GC–MS to Develop New Latent Fingerprint Developing Reagents

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Conventional development of latent fingerprints is compromised when the prints are decomposed by extreme temperatures, such as those encountered when a weapon cartridge is fired, an improvised explosive device is detonated, and/or in arson cases. Understanding how these extreme temperatures alter the chemical and physical properties of latent fingerprint residue could aid in the discovery of a reagent that could effectively develop these decomposed fingerprints. To mimic scenarios where fingerprints may be exposed to high heat conditions, standards of the five most abundant amino acids in fingerprint residue as well as extracted fingerprint residue were pyrolized under controlled conditions. Compounds identified as pyrolytic decomposition products were 3,6-dimethylpiperazine-2,5-dione (from alanine), maleimide, and 2,5-furandione (from aspartic acid). The pyrograms and selected ion traces show these products to hold promise as indicators of decomposed fingerprint residues and, therefore, may serve as good candidate substrates for a developing reagent.
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Keywords: amino acids; criminalistics; fingerprint residue; forensic science; gas chromatography/mass spectrometry; latent fingerprints; pyrolysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry, West Virginia University, 217 Clark Hall, Morgantown, WV 26506-6045.

Publication date: 2007-03-01

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