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Monday, February 6th, 2023

Researchers unveil fingerprinting, forensic analysis machine

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Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) researchers recently delivered a prototype of a small machine that can perform fingerprinting and forensic analysis, which could help the U.S. armed forces identify insurgents responsible for planting explosive devices.

U.S. and coalition forces may need both a fingerprint and a forensic analysis of trace particles of explosive material embedded between the grooves of the fingerprint to detain someone suspected of planting an improvised explosive device (IED). Augustus Fountain, the Army’s Senior Research Scientist (ST) for Chemistry, and his research team designed the Chemical Fingerprint Imaging System to enable users to collect both types of evidence.

The result of a six-year effort, the system is the size of a small refrigerator and is completely automated. It can complete an analysis of both fingerprints and up to 100 micro-particles in 30 minutes and sends fingerprint images electronically to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

“The Generation I Chemical Fingerprint Imaging System is much smaller, much faster, and much easier to operate than the system we first built in our research effort,” Jason Guicheteau, a research chemist leading the team, said. “The people at the lab were excited to get started using it to revisit cold cases in their lab and make it available to our forces in Afghanistan.”

The system can also identify narcotics and will likely also be useful for airport security and law enforcement agencies. The ECBC research team plans to deliver a Generation II system to the Criminal Investigation Laboratory in 2020.

“In fiscal year 2018 we will reach out to commercial vendors to build a Generation II system,” Guicheteau said. “This system will be still smaller and more portable, have more sensitivity, be able to identify a greater range of explosives and narcotics, and work on curved surfaces such as a water bottle or can.”