Jones, Benjamin, Downham, R. and Sears, V. G. (2010) Effect of substrate surface topography on forensic development of latent fingerprints with iron oxide powder suspension. Surface and Interface Analysis, 42 (5). pp. 438-442. ISSN 01422421

Latent fingerprint deposition and effectiveness of detection are strongly affected by the surface on which prints are deposited. Material properties, surface roughness, morphology, chemistry and hydrophobicity can affect the usefulness or efficacy of forensic print development techniques. Established protocols outline appropriate techniques and sequences of processes for broad categories of operational surfaces. This study uses atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy to investigate a series of surfaces classified as smooth, non-porous plastic. Latent prints developed with iron oxide powder suspension are analysed on a range of scales from macro to nano to help elucidate the interaction mechanisms between the latent fingerprint, development agent and underlying surface. Differences between surfaces have a strong effect, even within this single category. We show that both average roughness and topographical feature shape, characterised by skew, kurtosis and lay, are important factors to consider for the processing of latent fingerprints

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