Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Chemistry

First Advisor

James Cizdziel

Second Advisor

Susan Pedigo

Third Advisor

Kerri Scott


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



Analysis of latent fingerprints, the pattern left behind on surfaces from the friction ridges of a human finger, has been a lead investigative tool in identifying suspects for over a century. Pores from the skin ridges produce natural secretions containing various endogenous compounds that can be transferred onto surfaces that the finger touches. The chemical composition of fingerprint residues can thus contain both natural secretions as well as environmental contaminants collected from surfaces or materials the person has touched. With this, incriminating evidence such as traces of explosives or illicit drugs can be characterized from latent fingerprints, giving strong evidence for forensic cases. Analyzing the chemical composition of latent fingerprints without destroying them is challenging. With FTIR microscopy, latent fingerprints can be chemically characterized while also keeping the print intact for identification purposes. In this study, we developed methods to measure latent fingerprints using Bruker’s LUMOS II FTIR microscope. We also examine the aging of fingerprints on low-e glass slides stored in different locations and subsequently analyzed over a month. Chemical images were created showing the distribution of fingerprint residues including ibuprofen, touched prior to fingerprint application as an exogenous chemical marker. We observed that out of the three locations tested (in a desiccator, in a drawer, and near a window) that the desiccator was best suited for preserving the chemical compounds within the latent fingerprint and the fingerprint itself, and would, therefore, be an ideal place for forensic laboratories to store this kind of evidence. Also, discussed are the details of the creation of an undergraduate laboratory experiment in which forensic students were introduced to FTIR microscopy by analyzing fingerprints, paint chips, and fibers using the LUMOS II FTIR microscope. Overall, Chapter 1 introduces fingerprints and their analyses via FTIR microscopy. Chapter 2 discusses research on developing methods to measure latent fingerprints using the LUMOS II FTIR microscope as well as investigating the aging of latent fingerprints on low-e glass slides. Finally, Chapter 3 details a new undergraduate laboratory experiment on FTIR microscopy for forensic chemistry or instrumental analysis courses.

Available for download on Friday, September 13, 2024