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An Examination of the Sequence of Intersecting Lines Using Attenuated Total Reflectance–Fourier Transform Infrared Spectral Imaging

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In this study, the potential of attenuated total reflectance–Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectral imaging as a technique to determine the sequence of line crossings was examined. The technique was successful in determining the sequence of heterogeneous line intersections produced using ballpoint pens and laser printers. By imaging at characteristic frequencies, it was possible to form spectral images showing the spatial distribution of the materials. By examining the spectral images from the inks, it was possible to determine whether the ink was above or below the toner. In blind testing, ATR-FTIR spectral imaging results were directly compared to those obtained by eight experienced forensic document examiners using methods regularly employed in casework. ATR-FTIR spectral imaging was shown to achieve a 100% success rate in the blind tests, whereas some incorrect sequence determinations were made by the forensic document examiners when using traditional techniques. The technique was unable to image ink-jet printing, gel pens, roller ball pens, and felt-tip pens, and was also unable to determine the sequence of intersecting ballpoint pen lines.

Keywords: ATR; FTIR; ballpoint ink; forensic science; infrared; intersecting lines; line crossings; questioned documents; spectral imaging; toner

Document Type: Research Article


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

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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