Departmental Papers (ESE)


In forensic science the finger marks left unintentionally by people at a crime scene are referred to as "latent fingerprints". Most existing techniques to detect and lift latent fingerprints require application of certain material directly onto the exhibit. The chemical and physical processing applied onto the fingerprint potentially degrades or prevents further forensic testing on the same evidence sample. Many existing methods also come with deleterious side effects. We introduce a method to detect and extract latent fingerprint images without applying any powder or chemicals on the object. Our method is based on the optical phenomena of polarization and specular reflection together with the physiology of fingerprint formation. The recovered image quality is comparable to existing methods. In some cases like the sticky side of a tape our method shows unique advantages.

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version



Copyright 2006 Optical Society of America, Inc. Postprint version. Published in Journal of the Optical Society of America A, Volume 23, Issue 9, September 2006, pages 2137-2153.



Date Posted: 18 July 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.