Sydney: Now a single wisp of fibre would be sufficient to nail criminals, thanks to the latest advance in forensic science.
Forensic and analytical chemistry reseachers from Flinders University clinched a forgery case by tracing the imprint left by inks from different ballpoint pens on a single fibre, from a paper receipt.
The novel technique - in which fibres were extracted under a microscope using a piece of tungsten wire and tweezers with super-fine points could potentially revolutionise forensic and medical investigations which usually require much larger samples, the journal Forensic Science International reported.
Stewart Walker, Director of the Centre of Expertise in Energetic Material at Flinders, said the method had the added advantage of being virtually non-destructive, according to a university statement.
"Until now, ink analysis samples were obtained by cutting a five by eight mm piece of paper or punching a 1.25mm hole in the document," Walker said.
"Obviously people who have got old documents or paintings don't want you to come along and cut a bit out," he said. "We're able to take a single fibre so that, to the naked eye, you could not see that there had actually been any sample taken away."
The method, which lends itself to the analysis of all manner of fibres and chemicals, including drugs, hair or explosives, is the subject of further ongoing postgraduate research at Flinders. The research was undertaken by student Broderick Matthews from Flinders.