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Scientist makes fingerprints glow after home burglary
Scientist Kang Liang found a way to make fingerprints "glow" after his home was burglarized. - photo by Natalie Crofts
AUSTRALIA After scientist Kang Liangs home was burglarized, he didnt want the thieves to get off easy.

Liang wasnt satisfied with the local police forces use of traditional dusting techniques to locate fingerprints, so he set to work in his lab to find a better method. Using a liquid that contains tiny crystals, he discovered he could make fingerprints glow, according to 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, Liang said in a statement. As far as we know, its the first time that these extremely porous metal organic framework crystals have been researched for forensics.

The new process requires a few drops of solution and takes about 30 seconds to complete, according to CSIRO. The tiny crystals bind to the fingerprint residue, with patterns illuminating when investigators shine a UV light on the treated area.

The technique can be used on fingerprints found on surfaces like metal, plastic and glass, according to CSIRO. Researchers said the resulting copies are high resolution and the process poses little risk of damaging original prints.

While police and forensics experts use a range of different techniques, sometimes in complex cases evidence needs to be sent off to a lab where heat and vacuum treatment is applied, Liang said. Our method reduces these steps, and because its done on the spot, a digital device could be used at the scene to capture images of the glowing prints to run through the database in real time.

Liangs findings were published in the journal Advanced Materials Tuesday. CSIRO plans to partner with law enforcement to continue research.