Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fingerprint method can spot drugs or explosives

Fingerprints could be used to detect traces of drugs or explosives in one of the most significant improvements in the technology for years. Police now have the ability to analyse the traces of cannabis, cocaine and other drugs, or explosives, in a fingerprint itself. The new technique reveals, in extraordinary detail, the chemical compounds that make up the print and could also find medical uses, since tiny traces of chemicals at our fingertips could signal the presence of a disease or an illness. This method can also be used directly on a fingerprint, right where it's found, without the need to lift the print off and take it to a lab for analysis. Dr Demian Ifa, Prof Graham Cooks at Purdue University in West Lafayette, and colleagues report in the journal Science how they used a technique called desorption electrospray ionization, or DESI, which involves spraying a solvent onto a fingerprinted surface and then analysing the droplets that scatter off the print with a method called mass spectroscopy. Full story...
Another tool that could be used by oppressive states, though it has positive uses as well. Luckily the use of drugs is not illegal in the Netherlands, only possession.

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