The Forensic Acid Test

Criminals “sweating it out” beware: a new amino acid test can tell male from female fingerprints

Authorities have been using fingerprint analysis to catch criminals for more than 100 years. And technological advances have made it faster than ever to match fingerprints – nevertheless, a simple smudge or distortion can still render a print unusable.

“It’s nearly 2016 and fingerprint analysis is still focused only on pictures,” said Jan Halámek, Professor of Chemistry at State University of New York. Halámek and his team wanted to figure out what they could use within fingerprints to obtain forensically relevant information, without the need for an image. The researchers knew that women had approximately double the concentration of amino acids in their sweat compared to men – information they could use. But how do you extract amino acids from finger sweat?

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