Fingerprints may be able to provide more information than just a person’s identity

A new technology called Fingerprint Molecular Identification could be used to reveal a lot more from a fingerprint than just a person’s identity. Using this technology, law enforcement officials may be able to determine whether  a person has recently used drugs, whether a person is a smoker, whether a person has had contact with explosives, and a person’s sex.

“The technology uses a powder that has particles that bind to the amino and fatty acids in fingerprints and produce results with better clarity than its traditional fingerprinting counterparts, said Kim Sandquist, chief scientific officer of chemistry at ArroGen. Once the sample is taken from a crime scene using lift tape, it is brought back to the lab where it’s placed in a mass spectrometer — a scanning instrument that uses magnetic force to determine concentrations of certain molecules in the powder and prints. The process can then determine the presence of multiple drugs and metabolites in a single scan, Sandquist said.”

While the tests currently can be used on fingerprints up to a month old, the company is in the process of testing impressions from two years ago.

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