Skip navigation
A. Novel Fingerprint Detection Technology

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed fingerprint detection technology that may someday expand forensic investigations. Chemist Chris Worley says the technology detects chemical elements left in fingerprint residue, such as salt. It's called micro-X-ray fluorescence.

Worley: We're using x-rays. They're invisible, but what we do is we take a tiny, thin beam of x-rays probably the diameter on the order of a human hair and hit the surface with this x-ray beam. It emits x-rays from the chemical elements present in that spot, for example potassium.

Narrator: This method can also detect additional information.

Worley: If a person has been handling a substance, for example, gun powder. Existing technology will show you perhaps a fingerprint based off of treating it with powders or whatever. But this method will not only see a fingerprint, it would detect elements in the print, so it gives you this extra chemical information that they didn't otherwise have.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.