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Chemical Technique Restores Fingerprints

November 14, 2005

l Scientists at the Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge, TN, have devised a simple chemical technique that renders faint fingerprints more readable. Freshly-washed hands and the hands of young children lack sufficient sebum to leave clear fingerprints, according to the researchers. By exposing such “ghost” fingerprints to acetic acid, a common chemical found in vinegar, the prints can be rejuvenated, making it possible to apply chemical-fuming and dusting techniques usually employed to highlight and preserve good prints.
Bill Doyne, a forensic expert with the U.S. Army criminal investigation laboratory, said the technique “may be a very viable method of regenerating older prints,” while crime scene investigators may be able to utilize the chemical to reveal criminals.

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