D&N Scientific, Poster 560-1 on the exhibit floor at the Pittsburgh Conference.

Forensic Analysis of Fingernail Polish using Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy: A Preliminary Investigation.

Mallory L Lichwa and Helen M. Boylan, Department of Chemistry, Westminster College, New Wilmington, PA 16172

Abstract: Laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) uses a laser beam to atomize particles of a known sample until it reaches microplasma form. As the plasma cools, the components of the sample radiate and the elemental composition can be determined via a spectrometer. LIBS can be a valuable tool for forensic analysis attributable to its minimal sample preparation, transportable capabilities and wide range of spectral sensitivity. Testing the elemental composition of fingernail polish can be a useful tool to help determine the identity of an unknown body at a crime scene or to help link a suspect to the scene of a crime. LIBS serve as a “fingerprinting” device for the forensic world by comparing the LIBS spectrum of a crime scene sample to a known control. Essentially, two types of red fingernail polish, made by two different companies, may appear the same painted on a nail, but could be comprised of entirely different materials. Replicate analyses must be performed on a variety of samples to ensure that LIBS spectra provide statistically valid forensic comparisons. This research investigates the feasibility of using LIBS for the forensic analysis of fingernail polish.

Mallory and Dan at the LIBS poster session

site design by K. Roberson