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Magnetic Fingerprint Powder from a Mineral Indigenous to Thailand

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A study was conducted to investigate whether natural magnetite (Fe3O4), which is an abundant mineral in Thailand, could be used as a magnetic powder in the detection of latent fingerprints. Because of the presence of impurities, powdered magnetite is only weakly attracted by a magnet and cannot be used as a magnetic fingerprint powder by itself. Mixing a small amount of magnetite powder with nickel powder greatly enhances the magnetic attraction. A mixture of magnetite powder and nickel powder in a mass ratio of approximately 1:100 was found to be suitable for use as a magnetic fingerprint powder. Fingerprints developed using the magnetite/nickel mixture on nonporous surfaces were found to exhibit good adherence and clarity. Using an automated fingerprint identification system, the number of minutiae detected in fingerprints developed by using the prepared powder on nonporous surfaces was found to be comparable to those detected in fingerprints developed by using a commercial black magnetic powder. The cost is lowered by more than 60%.
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Keywords: fingerprint minutiae; fingerprint powder; forensic science; magnetic powder; magnetite; mixed magnetic powder; nickel powder

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Science, Forensic Science Graduate Programme, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand. 2: Chemistry Department, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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