The use of lasers for the detection of fingermarks is widespread in the forensic field. Despite this, and the fact that many studies have been conducted into the composition of fingermark residue, the components responsible for the inherent visible fluorescence remain unidentified.
Traditionally compositional studies have been performed on sweat, sebum, or skin surface washes, none of which are truly representative of the situation when a fingerprint is deposited on a surface. In this paper thin-layer chromatography (TLC) has been performed on sebum-rich fingermarks laid directly onto TLC plates and an argon ion laser used to visualize the separated components. It has been found to be a robust and reproducible method for studying the fluorescent components in fingermark residue and is considered to be more realistic than other methods of sample preparation as it eliminates the chances of extraneous matter being extracted from the skin surface. Investigations into the nature of the separated compounds have also been made and the results are reported.
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