London: In what could change the face of forensics forever, scientists in Scotland have developed a new technique which they claim could lift fingerprints from cloth and household fabrics such as curtains and couches.
In the past, forensic officers have only been able to take fingerprints from solid objects. But, the new technique means that full sets of prints can now be taken from clothing and fabrics, 'The Scotsman' reported.
The ground-breaking research was carried out by the University of Abertay and Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA) laboratories.
Paul Deacon, fingerprint unit manager at the SPSA, said: "This is cutting-edge research which will increase the type of cases we can look at. There's now virtually no smooth surface we don't have some chance of finding a print on. This is just the tip of the iceberg."
A piece of fabric is put into a vacuum chamber and a fine layer of gold is spread over it. Zinc is then added which sticks to the gold but not where there are ridges or remains of a fingerprint.
The fabric then looks like a photographic negative where the fabric appears grey except for the fingerprint. The scientists used one of two existing machines in Scotland which have been effective for decades in getting prints off smooth, solid objects. The machine, using vacuum metal deposition (VMD), was originally used to make car lamps.