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Chemical imaging of forensic traces in a multidisciplinary setting

Forensic Chemistry

Chemical Imaging
Chemical Imaging


When forensic traces like gunshot residue, human biological stains, fingermarks, explosive residue and drug metabolites are not only chemically analysed but also chemically imaged new options for detection, visualization (exploiting the chemical contrast) and forensic interpretation (activity level!) emerge. The applicability and usefulness of chemical imaging in forensic science is amongst others determined by the sensitivity, resolution, scan speed and versatility of the equipment. Currently the techniques used for chemical imaging are mostly used independent and subsequently after each other, which has both practical limitations and limitations regarding data interpretation. Therefore, it would be beneficial to develop a multidisciplinary chemical imaging strategy that can image forensic traces using different techniques simultaneously. In this project the aim is to test multiple technique-trace combinations to investigate their combined potential, advantages and limitations regarding chemical imaging, and their added value for forensic casework. Specifically, you will look into the combination of alternate forensic light source imaging (crime-light ML Pro), hyperspectral imaging (e.g. Raman, Infrared, UV) and XRF imaging.


  1. Langstraat, K., Knijnenberg, A., Edelman, G., van de Merwe, L., van Loon, A., Dik, J. and van Asten, A., "Large area imaging of forensic evidence with MA-XRF", Nature Scientific Reports, Vol. 7, article number 15056, 2017.
  2. Almeida, Mariana Ramos ; Logrado, Lucio Paulo Lima ; Zacca, Jorge Jardim ; Correa, Deleon Nascimento; Poppi and Ronei Jesus, “Raman hyperspectral imaging in conjunction with independent component analysis as a forensic tool for explosive analysis: The case of an ATM explosion”, Talanta, Vol. 174, pp.628-632, 2017
  3. Ifa, D.R., Gumaelius, L.M., Eberlin, L.S., Manicke, N.E. and Cooks, R.G., “Forensic analysis of inks by imaging desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) mass spectrometry”, The Analyst, Vol. 132(5), pp.461-467, 2007
  4. Edelman, G.J, Gaston, E., van Leeuwen, T.G., Cullen, P.J. and Aalders, M.C.G., “Hyperspectral imaging for non-contact analysis of forensic traces”, Forensic Science International, Vol. 223, Issues 1–3, pp.28-39, 2012
  5. Depth elemental imaging of forensic samples by confocal micro-XRF method, Nakano, Kazuhiko ; Nishi, Chihiro ; Otsuki, Kazunori ; Nishiwaki, Yoshinori ; Tsuji, Kouichi Analytical Chemistry, May 1, 2011, Vol.83(9), p.3477(7) .
  6. Implementation of MALDI MS profiling and imaging methods for the analysis of real crime scene fingermarks, Bradshaw, R. ; Denison, N. ; Francese, S., Analyst, 2017, Vol.142(9), pp.1581-1590
  7. Imaging mass spectrometry of elements in forensic cases by LA-ICP-MS, Lauer, Estelle ; Villa, Max ; Jotterand, Morgane ; Vilarino, Raquel ; Bollmann, Marc ; Michaud, Katarzyna ; Grabherr, Silke ; Augsburger, Marc ; Thomas, Aurélien, International Journal of Legal Medicine, 2017, Vol.131(2), pp.497-500
  8. (Un)targeted Scanning of Locks of Hair for Drugs of Abuse by Direct Analysis in Real Time-High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry, Duvivier, Wilco F ; Van Putten, Marc R ; Van Beek, Teris A ; Nielen, Michel W F, Analytical chemistry, 16 February 2016, Vol.88(4), pp.2489-96
  9. Shooting distance determination by m-XRF - Examples on spectra interpretation and range estimation,  Latzel, S.; Neimke, D.; Schumacher, R.; Barth, M.; Niewöhner, L., Forensic Science International, 2012, Vol. 223(1-3), pp. 273-278.

Download the project description

Institute/Company: Netherlands Forensic Institute  
City: The Hague    
Country: Netherlands   
Supervisor: Alwin Knijnenberg/Mattijs Koeberg/Karlijn Bezemer
UVA Examiner     : Maurice Aalders
UVA Coordinator : Arian van Asten & Yorike Hartman