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7. Forensic (Bio)Physics

The research theme Forensic (Bio)Physics (7) is split into two components within the CLHC. The Institute of Physics (IoP) of the UvA, led by prof. dr. Daniel Bonn is performing research into the behavior of complex liquids. Knowledge on this subject is highly relevant for the discipline of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (BPA). Within the Amsterdam UMC a comprehensive research program is realized in the field of Forensic Biophysics (prof. dr. Maurice Aalders). Within this domain, principles and models from physics are applied to forensic medical problems. Examples are the age determination of bloodstains, sperm traces, and fingermarks with spectroscopy and the highly accurate determination of the time of death by modeling the cooling of the human body. All in cooperation with the Dutch Police and the NFI.

  • Behavior of complex liquids

    Bloodstain Pattern Analysis is a forensic discipline in which, among others, the position of victims can be determined at crime scenes on which blood has been shed. To determine where the blood source was investigators use a straight-line approximation for the trajectory, ignoring effects of gravity and drag and thus overestimating the height of the source. We determined how accurately the location of the origin can be estimated when including gravity and drag into the trajectory reconstruction. The origin’s location was determined for each pattern with: the straight-line approximation, our method including gravity and our method including both gravity and drag. The latter two methods require the volume and impact velocity of each bloodstain, which we are able to determine with a 3D scanner and advanced fluid dynamics, respectively. We conclude that by including gravity and drag in the trajectory calculation, the origin’s location can be determined roughly four times more accurately than with the currently used straight-line approximation. Our study enables investigators to determine if the victim was sitting or standing, or it might be possible to connect wounds on the body to specific patterns, which is important for crime scene reconstruction. This is now being expanded towards porous surfaces such as clothing.