Spectroscopic IR laser scanner revealed

Editorial
Friday, July 6, 2018 - 12:30
German startup, Scanovis, has developed a prototype spectroscopic infrared laser scanner that can make latent fingerprints visible.
 
The reflected IR light intensity is lower on locations with finger fat than on trace-free areas.
 
The reflections of the laser are analysed by a photodiode and the collected signals are used to compute an image of the trace.
 
According to the company, the prototype works on non-absorbing and even surfaces with images having a spatial resolution of 30 micrometres.
 
Protoype IR laser fingerprint scanner.
 
Current methods are susceptible to human error and damage, with the most commonly-used method brushing traces with powders, which may lead to “wipers” on the trace.
 
Another mishandling risk lies in transferring the trace from the object to a trace card with the help of adhesive foil.
 
Other current methods involve applying chemicals like ninhydrin or cyanoacrelate on the print, which can compromise the quality of the traces of DNA, blood or of regulated substances found in the prints.
 
“Our technology leaves the trace unchanged,” says Jürgen Marx, Scanovis’ CEO. “All information in the fingerprint is preserved. The laser scanner images are much more accurate than the current analogous images. Improved accuracy might allow us one day to use more fragmented and overlapping prints that would be considered indeterminate with today’s methods."
 
"Also, the laser scanner produces digitally usable images quicker than today’s chemical treatments," he adds. "Think of a kidnapping case. Minutes can be decisive.”
 
The startup is also looking for investors in order to finance the development of a mobile scanner.
 
“With such a scanner, traces do not have to be transported from the crime scene to the crime lab. Prints could be visualised at the crime scene and be compared with fingerprint databases at once,” highlights Marx. 
 
The CEO also believes that the technology has plenty of potential in medical engineering and measurement technology.
 
“An infrared laser scanner can determine the exact location of almost any substance on most surfaces. For example, there is currently no quick way to determine if an operating room is really clean. We can change that," says Marx.
 
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