Tayside and Central Scotland

Abertay University unveils cold case fingerprint machine

Hand print Image copyright Abertay University
Image caption The machine can detect handprints on almost any surface

A machine which retrieves latent fingerprints in cold cases will be part of Abertay University's new £3.5m science laboratories.

Forensics students will use the vacuum metal deposition system (VMD) chamber as part of their studies in "crime scene mark enhancement."

The university said it was the only place in Scotland where students could access the machine.

Similar devices are used by police forensics departments.

The chamber heats gold and zinc, evaporating the metals which are then re-deposited as a thin layer on a target surface, revealing any prints.

The machine can be used to extract a print from almost any material or object, including the new polymer £5 notes.

Image copyright Abertay University
Image caption The machine, shown with lab technician Maurice Lindsay and student Paul Sherriffs, is part of the university's new £3.5m science laboratories

Dr Ben Jones, head of the university's science division, said: "This is all about making sure our students have access to the latest technology and, from a research point of view, expanding on our earlier work with the UK Home Office in understanding the processes involved at the micro level to further develop the use of the technique.

"Fingerprints are still used more than DNA when it comes to identification, so this piece of equipment places our students at the cutting edge of what is available in the industry."

Image copyright Abertay University
Image caption The machine has been tested on the new polymer £5 notes

West Technology, who produce the VMD chamber, have given a £4,500 scholarship to student Paul Sheriffs, who will be using the device as part of his PhD research project.

He said: "A big area of research just now centres around the new polymer £5 notes as they are very different from what we had before in terms of being able to extract a print.

"It is great that the university has been able to give me access to this resource."

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