Evaluation of fingermark detection sequences on paper substrates

Callie Marriott, Rebecca Leeb, Zachary Wilkes, Bruce Comber, Xanthe Spindler, Claude Roux, Chris LENNARD

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


It is generally accepted that the amino acid reagent consisting of 1,2-indanedione and a catalytic amount of zinc chloride, referred to as IND-Zn, is the single best method for the detection of latent fingermarks on paper substrates and that ninhydrin is of limited value when used in sequence after this reagent. However, recent research has suggested that the sequence 1,8-diazafluoren-9-one (DFO) followed by ninhydrin may actually produce a greater number of fingermarks than IND-Zn on its own or IND-Zn followed by ninhydrin. This study focussed on the evaluation of two fingermark detection sequences for porous surfaces: (1) IND-Zn followed by ninhydrin, physical developer (PD) and the lipid stain nile red; and (2) DFO followed by ninhydrin, PD and nile red. The evaluation was undertaken using a range of latent fingermark donors and on a number of paper substrates that are commonly encountered in Australia. In addition, a pseudo-operational trial was completed on 5-year-old university examination booklets. Parallel studies were undertaken at two locations: Sydney (temperate, coastal climate) and Canberra (relatively dry, continental climate).

The results of the donor study indicated that there was a negligible difference in performance between the two sequences across all paper types and all time periods evaluated. When considering individual reagents, IND-Zn generally developed better quality fingermarks compared to DFO; however, ninhydrin had a greater enhancement effect on DFO developed marks than after IND-Zn. In the pseudo-operational trials, the IND-Zn sequence outperformed the DFO sequence. Nile red did not develop any additional marks at the end of each sequence and, as a result, the use of this technique at the end of a full sequence is of questionable value. The overall outcome was that the sequence IND-Zn followed by ninhydrin and PD is recommended for the processing of common paper substrates under the conditions typically experienced at the two locations studied
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-37
Number of pages8
JournalForensic Science International
Issue numberMarch
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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