Fingermarks, beyond the source: What their composition may reveal about the donor

W. van Helmond

    Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

    241 Downloads (Pure)


    fingerprints are a commonly exploited type of evidence and can be crucial in a criminal investigation. The process of individualization or exclusion of a donor relies on the comparison of ridge detail characteristics between a fingermark, found at a crime scene, and reference fingerprints, collected under controlled conditions (either or not stored in a database). Although this process has been successfully used for over a century, fingermarks found at a crime scene are of limited value for a criminal trial if the corresponding reference fingerprint is not available, or the found fingermark is of poor quality. Fingerprints consist of donor secretion, mainly eccrine and sebaceous, of which the exact composition is likely influenced by many (both endogenous and exogenous) factors, including donor traits, habits and activities. Analysis of the chemical composition could thus potentially lead to the retrieval of donor information from those fingerprints that yielded no information in the traditional comparison process. The main aim of this dissertation was to determine what donor information can reliably and validly be derived from the chemical analysis of the fingerprint composition, in order to be used in forensic investigations...
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Delft University of Technology
    • van Esch, J.H., Supervisor
    • Sudhölter, E.J.R., Supervisor
    • de Poot, C.J., Supervisor, External person
    • de Puit, M., Advisor
    Award date12 Nov 2020
    Print ISBNs978-94-6421-099-6
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    • fingerprints
    • mass spectrometry
    • compositional analysis


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