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MOFs bring fingerprint technology into the 21st century


A burglary at his home gave materials scientist Dr Kang Liang reason to develop a new forensics technique that makes fingerprints glow in 30 seconds.

He had the idea while watching the police team dust for prints.

His new method could enhance investigations as the “glow” effect provides higher resolution images for better, more accurate analysis.

“When my house was broken into I saw how common practice fingerprinting is for police” Kang told Nick Kachel at Australia’s peak government science agency, the CSIRO.

“Knowing that dusting has been around for a long time, I was inspired to see how new innovative materials could be applied to create even better results.”

Kang works with metal organic framework (MOF) crystals, which are extremely porous and can be designed to bind or grow around biological or organic material.

In this case…

the tiny MOF crystals rapidly bind to fingerprint residue, including proteins, peptides, fatty acids and salts, creating an ultrathin coating that’s an exact replica of the pattern.

The glowing results can be seen in the image below, while you can read more about MOFs here.

Bill Condie

Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.

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