Volume 32, Issue 1 (January 1987)
Automated Gunshot Residue Particle Search and Characterization
The main disadvantage to gunshot residue (GSR) particle analysis utilizing scanning electron microscope/energy dispersive X-ray (SEM/EDX) instrumentation has been the excessive operator time required for search and identification. This study uses an automated particle search and characterization program for unattended GSR search and identification. This system allows for automatic matrix search, particle sizing, chemical typing, and spectral aquisition with subsequent storage of data to disk for later operator review and verification. This work describes various aspects of the program, determines appropriate parameters adequate for both unique and characteristic GSR particle identification, and evaluates the reliability of data obtained. Samples are collected via the tape lift method from test-firings of .38, .32, .25, and .22 caliber handguns at time after firing intervals of 0 to 6 h. Unique GSR particles are consistently and correctly identified by this method on tape lift samples taken up to 4 h after firing. False positive results of unique GSR particles are not encountered on control handblank samples. This technique appears to provide the forensic science community with an operator-free method of reliable GSR particle search and an improved analyst-time-per-case ratio.