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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 55-62

Comparison of vacuum metal deposition and 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin reagent method for the development of fingerprints on renminbi


1 College of Forensic Science, People's Public Security University of , Daxing District, Beijing, China
2 Department of Forensic Science, Zunyi Municipal Public Security Bureau, Honghuagang District, Zunyi, Guizhou, China
3 The Graduate School, People's Public Security University of , Xicheng District, Beijing, China

Date of Web Publication30-Jun-2017

Correspondence Address:
Yaping Luo
The Graduate School, People's Public Security University of China, No.1 South Muxidi, Xicheng District, Beijing 100038
China
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jfsm.jfsm_51_17

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  Abstract 

It is extremely difficult to develop fingerprints from the surface of currency. There are studies reporting that the high vacuum metal deposition (VMD) method can be used to detect fingerprints on certain types of currency notes. Both VMD and 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin techniques are employed to visualize latent fingermarks on porous surfaces, such as paper. The current study explores whether the VMD method or 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin reagent method is more effective in the development of fingerprints on renminbi (RMB). Uncirculated, circulated, and water-exposed RMB was utilized in this study, along with five donors who ranged in their age and potential to leave fingermarks. Samples were aged for a determined period (for uncirculated and circulated RMB, times were 1, 3, 5, 10, and 35 days; for water-exposed RMB, exposure time was 1 day) and then treated with VMD and 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin. The results suggested that the 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin reagent yielded a better effect for both circulated and uncirculated RMB. For the RMB exposed to water, VMD performed better and gave limited results in terms of fingerprint development, which could serve as a reference for actual forensic cases.

Keywords: 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin, fingerprints, renminbi, vacuum metal deposition


How to cite this article:
Wang C, Qian Z, Li W, Luo Y. Comparison of vacuum metal deposition and 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin reagent method for the development of fingerprints on renminbi. J Forensic Sci Med 2017;3:55-62

How to cite this URL:
Wang C, Qian Z, Li W, Luo Y. Comparison of vacuum metal deposition and 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin reagent method for the development of fingerprints on renminbi. J Forensic Sci Med [serial online] 2017 [cited 2017 Oct 23];3:55-62. Available from: http://www.jfsmonline.com/text.asp?2017/3/2/55/209289




  Introduction Top


Vacuum metal deposition (VMD) is an acknowledged technique for developing latent fingerprints.[1] Gold and zinc are evaporated under high vacuum, and the deposition of the metals leads to the visualization of the fingerprints.[2] The VMD technique allows the development of fingermarks on nonporous substrates, such as polyethylene and porous (or semiporous) substrates, such as paper.[3],[4],[5] Meanwhile, research has shown that VMD can also develop fingerprints on paper that is wet or aged.[6],[7] In view of its high sensitivity, researchers have investigated the use of VMD to detect latent fingerprints on substrates, which are very difficult to develop, and some progress has been made in this area. Fraser et al.'s group found that using VMD with fabric could achieve positive visualization results.[8],[9] It has also been found that VMD was more successful for the recovery of fingerprints on wetted surfaces than other conventional techniques.[10],[11] With the development of high VMD technology, researchers have tried to use this technology to detect fingerprints on the surface of currency.[12],[13]

Currency from different countries is made from a variety of materials, such as paper or polymers. Irrespective of the material used, the acquisition, and visualization of latent fingerprints on currency has always proved challenging to the forensic science community as its high frequency of liquidity brings about serious pollution on the surface layer. In recent years, several studies, aimed at locating and developing fingerprints on different types of notes, have been done in some countries.

For fingerprints on the surface of banknotes, there is a report on Euro banknotes believing that the method using DFO/ninhydrin is better than that of cyanoacrylate fuming (followed by VMD).[13] For the Canadian polymer banknotes, Jones et al. think VMD is the best technique to develop fingerprints, and they recommend the process of using cyanoacrylate fuming followed by VMD and fluorescence staining when detecting fingerprints on polymer banknotes.[12],[14] In 2013, Lam et al. conducted a further study about developing fingerprints on Canadian currency, confirming the positive results of the method utilizing cyanoacrylate fuming-VMD-fluorescence staining.[15] However, the applicability of this method to other common currencies has not been reported. The methods discussed above are frequently used for banknotes lost owing to criminal activities, such as burglary, robbery, and other relevant cases. Renminbi (RMB), China's legal currency, is widely circulated in the market and it is necessary to find an optimal method to develop fingerprints for RMB.

As a type of paper currency, the surface material of RMB is totally different from the polymer substrate of Canadian banknotes. After preliminary experiments, we found that cyanoacrylate was not very efficient in detecting fingerprints on RMB; therefore, the process suggested by Jones et al. is not suitable for use with RMB. Furthermore, even though Euro banknotes are made of paper, paper banknotes of different countries have considerable differences in their materials and manufacturing technologies. It is known that both VMD and 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin are effective methods for visualizing latent prints on porous surfaces, such as paper.[2] So far, a comparison of VMD and 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin for the development of fingerprints on RMB has not been reported, and therefore, this study was designed to determine which method would be more successful in the development of latent fingermarks on uncirculated, circulated, or water-exposed RMB.


  Materials and Methods Top


Materials

The VMD unit employed in this study (HHV IDenticoat 500) was designed and manufactured specifically for latent fingerprint visualization by Edwards. A thin gold wire (purity >99.9%) and zinc foil (purity >99.9%, thickness ≈0.3 mm) were used in the experiments. The ninhydrin solution contained 2 g of ninhydrin in 100 ml of ethanol. The 1,2-indandione solution contained 0.8 g of 1,2-indandione, 90 ml ethyl acetate, 10 ml acetic acid, 80 ml of zinc chloride solution (0.4 g ZnCl2, 10 ml absolute ethanol, 1 ml ethyl acetate, 190 ml HFE7100), and 820 ml HFE7100 (99.5% of the content was methoxy-nine fluorine generation of butane).

Uncirculated and circulated RMB was used as substrates for the experiments. Several consecutive impressions of fingerprints were placed on each banknote by one donor. Each banknote was cut in two to allow direct comparison between the two sets of techniques. Split prints were used, where half of the print was developed using VMD and the other half was developed using 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin. Here, the objects were treated with 1,2-indandione, followed by ninhydrin. After both processes, the fingerprints on the objects would be marked and photographed, and the result used for comparison with VMD was the better of the two experimental results.

Experimental design

Experiment A: Uncirculated renminbi

Uncirculated banknotes were selected as substrates in this experiment. Five donors participated in the preparation of the samples, and each donor deposited fingerprints on five successive pieces of banknotes every time, and these banknotes were kept for the same period before treating. The substrates were kept at room temperature about 20°C for periods of 1, 3, 5, 10, and 35 days. Before testing, each banknote was cut in two, half of which was treated with VMD while the other half was treated with 1,2-indandione, to compare the effectiveness of the two detection techniques.

Experiment B: Circulated renminbi

The experimental design was similar to experiment A except for the samples as circulated banknotes were used here.

Experiment C: Renminbi exposed to water

Both uncirculated and circulated banknotes were used in this experiment. The substrates were exposed to water for a determined period 24 h after the fingerprints were deposited (1 h, 30 min, 5 min, 1 min, 10 s). After that, the banknotes were air-dried at room temperature. Then, the samples were treated with VMD and 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin as in experiment A, and the effectiveness of both methods, with respect to the development of fingerprints, was evaluated.

Experimental method

Sampling

Five fingerprint donors (four males, one female), aged 20–45 years, with potential to leave fingerprint deposits participated in this study. Before the collection, the donors were required not to wash their hands for at least 30 min and no grooming procedure for loading with extra sebaceous or eccrine deposits; therefore, the deposits left were “normal.” Before donation, donors rubbed their hands together to evenly distribute the deposits across all their fingers. The samples were kept under ambient humidity and room temperature.

In experiment A, each donor deposited fingerprints on both sides of the banknotes. Two to three consecutive impressions of the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers of both hands of a single donor were placed on each banknote (16 on the front, 7 on the back). [Figure 1] shows a diagram of the deposition of the fingerprints in experiment A. The total number of fingerprint samples = 5 donors ×23 fingerprints ×5 successive banknotes ×5 days =2875.
Figure 1: Diagram of fingerprints' deposition in experiment A

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In experiment B, sample preparation was the same as that for experiment A, with the exception that fingerprints were deposited only on the front of the note. Therefore, the total number of fingerprints =5 donors ×5 successive banknotes ×16 fingerprints ×5 days =2000.

In experiment C, each donor deposited impressions only on the front of the RMB. One single finger stamped eight successive fingerprints from left to right. The substrates were kept for 1 day and then immersed in water for a determined period (1 h, 30 min, 10 min, 1 min, and 10 s). Hence, the total number of fingerprints =5 donors ×8 successive fingerprints ×5 immersing times ×2 types of banknotes =400.

Operation method

The gold wire (1 g) was placed in the center of a filament and zinc pieces (purity >99%, 12 mm ×6 mm) in the other two filaments. The chamber was evacuated to <2 × 10−4 mbar before the commencement of metal (gold and zinc) evaporation.[16] Current was supplied to the gold filament current to allow the gold to evaporate for approximately 30 s. The zinc filament was then exposed to current until the fingerprint details could be observed. To ensure that the process was accurate, test pieces comprising paper with fingerprints were placed next to the banknotes in the VMD chamber.

Samples treated using 1,2-indandione were heated at 100°C for 10 min at 0% relative humidity and were stored in the dark before recording the fingerprints using fluorescence photography or digital imaging.[17] Samples treated using ninhydrin were heated at 80°C for 10 min at 60% relative humidity.

Fingerprint evaluation standard

Each developed impression was evaluated according to the UK Home Office grading system [Table 1] to quantify the print quality of the developed fingerprints, so as to obtain results that are more scientific and precise.
Table 1: UK Home Office grading system used to evaluate the developed fingerprints

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  Results and Discussion Top


Experiment A

This study evaluated the scores for each developed fingerprint and calculated the average scores of the fingerprints detected by these two analytical methods. Statistically, for the uncirculated RMB, 1,2-indandione was obviously more effective than VMD, and the average scores of the fingerprints developed by 1,2-indandione were more than twice that of those developed by VMD under each period [Figure 2]. In addition, scores for 1,2-indandione remained relatively constant for the entire 35 days while the scores of VMD gradually declined as time passed.
Figure 2: Average scores of the uncirculated banknotes developed by vacuum metal deposition and 1,2-indandione

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Fingerprints that scored above 1 could at least indicate the location of the fingerprints. The highest number of developed fingerprints by the VMD method was observed after 3 days (340 prints, 72% of the total). The lowest number was observed after 35 days (167 prints, 36% of the total). The best results with 1,2-indandione were after 1 and 3 days, where 470 prints were detected, which corresponded to 99% of the total. The lowest number, 457 fingerprints, appeared after 10 days, which corresponded to 96% of the total [Figure 3].
Figure 3: Percentage of the visible fingerprints developed by vacuum metal deposition and 1,2-indandione on uncirculated banknotes

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Development of fingerprints on the uneven, debossed areas of the banknote was difficult, but both techniques were successful for prints left on the smooth areas. Due to the differences in surface features of the RMB, two types of area were defined: smooth areas, “area A” and other areas, “area B.”

Next, the scores of the two areas were determined. The data showed that 1,2-indandione was better than VMD irrespective of the surface type [Figure 4] and [Figure 5]. In area A, the fingerprints developed by 1,2-indandione all scored an average of more than 3, which might provide a high success rate of identification. For each of the five periods tested, the percentage of the visible fingerprints was 100%. The highest score of the fingerprints detected by VMD was 1.82 [Figure 6]. The highest percentage of the visible fingerprints appeared after 10 days, which was 92%. The percentages after 1, 3, and 5 days were 71%, 76%, and 73%, respectively. When the period tested was increased to 35 days, the percentage of detected fingerprints fell to 50% [Figure 7].
Figure 4: Fingerprints on area A of renminbi after treatment: Vacuum metal deposition (natural light) compared to 1,2-indandione (532 nm laser, orange filter, the same below). ([a-e] Period of 1 day, 3 days, 5 days, 10 days, and 35 days)

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Figure 5: Fingerprints on area B of renminbi after treatment: Vacuum metal deposition (natural light) compared to 1,2-indandione (florescence). ([a-e] The age of 1 day, 3 days, 5 days, 10 days, and 35 days)

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Figure 6: Average scores of the fingerprints developed by vacuum metal deposition and 1,2-indandione on area A and area B of the uncirculated renminbi

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Figure 7: Percentage of the visible fingerprints developed by vacuum metal deposition and 1,2-indandione on areas A and B of uncirculated renminbi

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In area B, the average scores of the fingerprints developed by 1,2-indandione were approximately 2, and the percentage of visible fingerprints was above 90% for each period. The lowest percentage appeared after 10 days, at a value of 95%. On the contrary, the results with VMD were far from satisfactory; the highest percentage (70%) appeared after 3 days, and the lowest percentage (30%) appeared after 35 days.

It was clear that, for uncirculated RMB, 1,2-indandione was superior to VMD in terms of the detection, identification, and location of the fingerprints on the note. The results demonstrate the potential of 1,2-indandione for DNA profiling.

Experiment B

For the circulated currency, the condition of the note was poor. The substantial pollution on the surface, particularly stains from fluorescent materials, would impact the fluorescence results of 1,2-indandione during detection. Therefore, ninhydrin was used after treatment with 1,2-indandione during this experiment, and the better results would be compared to those with VMD.

The scores of each developed fingerprint were evaluated, and the average scores of the fingerprints detected using the two methods were calculated. The experimental results showed that the ninhydrin method was superior to the VMD method in most cases. For example, after an elapsed time of 1 day for the fingerprints on RMB, VMD scored 69% more than 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin. The result for 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin was obviously superior to VMD for fingerprints with ages of 3 and 5 days. However, neither method was satisfactory as the highest average score was only 1.02 for the 3-day-old fingerprints treated with 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin, signifying only that the print was visible [Figure 8].
Figure 8: Average scores of the fingerprints developed by vacuum metal deposition and 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin on the circulated renminbi

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In comparison to the uncirculated RMB, the overall average score of VMD dropped by 39% and that of 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin dropped by 73%.

The study recorded each score of each fingerprint and counted the number of the scores that reached 1 and could at least be used to locate the position of the fingerprints. For the VMD method, the highest number of fingerprints with a score of 1 or more appeared after 1 day, a total of 155, corresponding to 52% of the total fingerprints. The lowest number of fingerprints appeared after 10 days, a total of 60, corresponding to 20% of the total. For the 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin method, the highest number of fingerprints appeared after 5 days, a total of 152, corresponding to 51% of the total. The lowest number of fingerprints appeared after 35 days, a total of 67, corresponding to 22% of the total [Figure 9]. The overall average percentage of the visible fingerprints developed by VMD and 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin was similar at 38% and 34%, respectively.
Figure 9: Percentage of visible fingerprints developed by vacuum metal deposition and 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin on the circulated renminbi

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After the evaluation of the scores, the data from experiment B were also processed to consider “area A” and “area B,” as in experiment A. The results were the same as those for uncirculated RMB; the effect on area A was superior to that on area B, but the overall score dropped dramatically. The data showed that on area A, where there was less debossing, the effect of development using 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin was better than VMD [Figure 10]. However, area B which contained decorative patterns was complicated and did not give good results with either method [Figure 11] and [Figure 12].
Figure 10: Fingerprints on area A of circulated renminbi after treatment: Vacuum metal deposition (natural light) compared to 1,2-indandione (florescence). ([a-e] Period of 1 day, 3 days, 5 days, 10 days, and 35 days)

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Figure 11: Fingerprints on area B of circulated renminbi after treatment: Vacuum metal deposition (natural light) compared to 1,2-indandione (florescence). ([a-e] Period of 1 day, 3 days, 5 days, 10 days, and 35 days)

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Figure 12: Average scores of the fingerprints developed by vacuum metal deposition and 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin

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In addition, the study compared the percentages of the visible fingerprints developed by the two different methods on both sides of the note [Figure 13]. It was found that on area A, the percentage of visible prints with 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin was higher than that with VMD after all periods. The greatest difference appeared after 5 days when the percentage with 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin was 96% while the percentage with VMD was 69%. In area B, there was no significant difference between the percentage of the visible fingerprints treated using 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin and VMD. After 1, 5, and 35 days, the percentage of VMD was higher than 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin, while after 3 and 10 days, the result was reversed. The results show that the detection of fingerprints on circulated currency is complicated.
Figure 13: Percentage of visible fingerprints developed by vacuum metal deposition and 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin on areas A and B of circulated renminbi

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In addition, the results showed that although the overall effect of 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin was better than that of VMD, particularly when one specific fingerprint was compared, there were several scores of fingerprints detected by VMD that were higher than that detected by 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin [Figure 14]. After counting the scores, VMD had 77 fingerprints that scored better than 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin, which accounted for 43% of the total. The lowest number was that of the higher scoring fingerprints, 15, which accounted for 8% of the total [Table 2]. Overall, approximately 20% of the fingerprints developed by VMD were superior to those developed by 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin.
Figure 14: Fingerprints on area A of circulated renminbi when vacuum metal deposition was better than 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin ([a-e] eriod of 1 day, 3 days, 5 days, 10 days, and 35 days)

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Table 2: The number and percentage of scores when vacuum metal deposition was better than 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin

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It was believed that the reason for the inconsistent results in treating circulated currency was that the currency would have encountered all types of pollution during its circulation. During the experiment, some fingerprints on the banknotes could not be detected by VMD. Regardless or experimental adjustments, zinc could not be deposited on the surface of the note. Large areas of fluorescence could be observed on some banknotes before they were treated by 1,2-indandione. Owing to the limited compatibility of the VMD and 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin methods, we considered a two-step approach, applying the VMD method first and subsequently the 1,2-indandione, to solve the above problems. However, it was observed that, after using VMD and subsequently 1,2-indandione, the zinc in the VMD method and the acetate in the 1,2-indandione reagent might be reacting and depositing on the surface. This affected the results observed results when using 1,2-indandione along with ninhydrin. Therefore, the idea was not considered.

Therefore, for currency in circulation, from the comparison results of the above two methods, it is recommended to use 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin to detect the fingerprints, particularly when the banknote is not severely damaged.

Experiment C

During experiment C, the fingerprints treated by 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin could not be visualized even when they were immersed in water for only 10 s. However, when the banknotes were treated using VMD, the fingerprints on the RMB, which was immersed in water for 1 h, could still be developed well [Figure 15].
Figure 15: Fingerprints on renminbi exposed to water for 1 h. ([a-c] samples of 3 different donors)

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According to the data, the average score of the fingerprints on uncirculated RMB was 1.18, which was similar to the score of the fingerprints that were not exposed to water after a period of 1 day. Further, the number of scores above 1.5 was 50, which accounted for 25% of the total number. This meant that up to 25% of the fingerprints may be sufficient for identification. For the RMB in circulation, the average score of the fingerprints was 0.41, which was slightly lower than the score of the fingerprints that were not exposed to water. The number of fingerprint scoring more than 1.5 was 12, which accounted for 6% of the total. This meant that up to 6% of the fingerprints may be sufficient for identification [Table 3].
Table 3: Results of fingerprints on renminbi exposed to water and developed by vacuum metal deposition

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Clearly, 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin showed better results in developing fingerprints on RMB; in general, once the RMB was soaked in water, this method was ineffective. Once the object is submerged in water, the amino acids that are responsible for the reaction with 1,2-indandione and ninhydrin will dissolve. Therefore, 1,2-indandione or ninhydrin was inefficient in detecting fingerprints on the water-exposed substrate. At this point, the examiners could use the VMD method as an alternative approach for fingerprints detection.


  Conclusion Top


This study compared the effectiveness and practicality of using VMD and 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin methods for fingerprint development on RMB. It was shown that 1,2-indandione/ninhydrin had a better ability to develop the fingerprints irrespective of whether the currency was circulated. In practical cases, for uncirculated RMB, we recommend the use of 1,2-indandione directly to treat the substrates. For circulated RMB, we recommend treating it with 1,2-indandione and subsequently with ninhydrin. If the banknotes were exposed to water, using the VMD method first is more likely to be effective.

Source of support in the form of grants: Operation Expenses for Universities' Basic Scientific Research in 2016 of PPSUC (No.2016JKF01102).

Financial support and sponsorship

Source of support in the form of grants: Operation Expenses for Universities' Basic Scientific Research in 2016 of PPSUC (No.2016JKF01102).

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7], [Figure 8], [Figure 9], [Figure 10], [Figure 11], [Figure 12], [Figure 13], [Figure 14], [Figure 15]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]



 

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