Worley: So, it's not in the background, but it's in the fingerprint itself. So, people sweat, they exude sodium chloride, potassium chloride, so that's what we're looking at is – those kinds of elements.
Narrator: Christopher Worley, an analytical chemist at the Lab, adds that this is preliminary work using x-ray based instruments in their laboratory, but the technology is promising.
Worley: In certain circumstances, for instance, children's prints tend to degrade over time, we can actually, through looking at the chemical composition, detect elements and in other words, see the fingerprint, where it would not be seen with traditional methods over time. If somebody has left a fingerprint, not only can we detect the fingerprint pattern, but if we see certain elements in the fingerprint that are unusual, it tells us that maybe they've been handling material containing that element, so it gives us additional clues as to where the person may have been.
Worley: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.