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Effect of Aging and Surface Interactions on the Diffusion of Endogenous Compounds in Latent Fingerprints Studied by Mass Spectrometry Imaging,

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The ability to determine the age of fingerprints would be immeasurably beneficial in criminal investigations. We explore the possibility of determining the age of fingerprints by analyzing various compounds as they diffuse from the ridges to the valleys of fingerprints using matrix‐assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry imaging. The diffusion of two classes of endogenous fingerprint compounds, fatty acids and triacylglycerols (TGs), was studied in fresh and aged fingerprints on four surfaces. We expected higher molecular weight TGs would diffuse slower than fatty acids and allow us to determine the age of older fingerprints. However, we found interactions between endogenous compounds and the surface have a much stronger impact on diffusion than molecular weight. For example, diffusion of TGs is faster on hydrophilic plain glass or partially hydrophilic stainless steel surfaces, than on a hydrophobic Rain‐x treated surface. This result further complicates utilizing a diffusion model to age fingerprints.
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Keywords: aging; diffusion; forensic science; latent fingerprints; matrix‐assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry imaging; surface interactions

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2018

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