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New Fingerprint Technique Could Detect Sex, Race, Lifestyle

July 25, 2007  | 

Researchers have found that tape made from gelatin could provide more information to forensics teams than current methods that can alter prints and eliminate traces of telltale chemicals.

The gel tape can gather prints from a variety of surfaces, according to LiveScience.com. The gelatin is then irradiated with infrared rays inside an instrument that rapidly takes a kind of "chemical photograph," identifying molecules in the print within 30 seconds, says physical chemist Sergei Kazarian at Imperial College London.

The small amount of fluid in a fingerprint could reveal data such as if it came from a male, based on a greater amount of urea in the fluid, or even whether a person is a smoker or a vegetarian.

Researchers' findings are detailed in the Aug. 1 issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry.

"More volunteers need to be tested for statistical information on fingerprints with regard to race, sex, and so on, but we believe this will be a powerful tool," says Kazarian, whose team developed the method.

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