Fingermark simulants and their inherent problems: A comparison with latent fingermark deposits

Sara Zadnik, Wilhelm Van Bronswijk, Amanda A. Frick, Patrick Fritz, Simon W. Lewis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Commercially available fingermark simulants were compared to latent fingermark deposits to assess their efficacy as standards for a quality control assessment of fingermark development reagents. Deposits of the simulants and latent fingermarks were made on paper substrates and were developed using reagents that target amino acids (ninhydrin, 1,2-indanedione) and sebaceous secretions (Oil Red O, physical developer). The resulting marks were compared for visibility and color. Significant differences were observed between the simulants and latent fingermarks in response to the fingermark development reagents. Infrared spectroscopic analysis of the simulants compared to untreated latent fingermarks revealed differences in chemical composition. These results indicate that these simulants are not well suited as quality control standards in forensic laboratories and should be used with extreme caution in any form of research into latent fingermark detection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-608
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Forensic Identification
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


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