Elemental analysis and imaging of sunscreen fingermarks by X-ray fluorescence

  • Ling-Na Zheng
  • Rong-Liang Ma
  • Qian Li
  • Yuan-Bo Sang
  • Hai-Long Wang
  • Bing Wang
  • Qi-Qi Yan
  • Dong-Liang Chen
  • Meng WangEmail author
  • Wei-Yue Feng
  • Yu-Liang Zhao
Research Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. New Insights into Analytical Science in China


Chemical composition in fingermarks could provide useful information for forensic studies and applications. Here, we evaluate the feasibility of analysis and imaging of fingermarks via elements by synchrotron radiation X-ray fluorescence (SRXRF) and commercial X-ray fluorescence (XRF). As a proof of concept, we chose four brands of sunscreens to make fingermarks on different substrates, including plastic film, glass, paper, and silicon wafer. We obtained an evident image of fingermarks via zinc and titanium by XRF methods. In addition, the ratios of element concentrations in sunscreen fingermarks were obtained, which were in accordance with the results obtained by acid digestion and ICP-OES analysis. In comparison, commercial XRF offers the most advantages in terms of non-destructive detection, easy accessibility, fast element images, and broad applicability. The possibility to acquire fingermark images simultaneously with element information opens up new avenues for forensic science.

Graphical abstract


Fingermark X-ray fluorescence Elemental imaging Synchrotron radiation X-ray fluorescence 



The SRXRF beam time was granted by 4W1B end station of Beijing Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences). The staff members of 4W1B are acknowledged for their support in measurements and data reduction. The authors are grateful to Dr. C. Derrick Quarles for his help in LIBS experiments.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 11505194, U1432241, and 11575209), the National Basic Research Program of China (Grant No. 2016YFA0201604), and the fund of Key Laboratory of Trace Science and Technology, Ministry of Public Security (No. 2017FMKFKT07).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Dr. QQ Yan is an employee of Bruker Scientific Technology Co. Ltd. (Shanghai) who helped to analyze some fingermarks by XRF. No other conflict of interest is reported.

Ethical approval

The study protocol conformed to the ethical guidelines of Chinese Academy of Sciences and was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from the volunteers who provides the fingermarks and approved by the Research Ethics Committee of Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Supplementary material

216_2019_1718_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (386 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 385 kb)


  1. 1.
    Su B. Recent progress on fingerprint visualization and analysis by imaging ridge residue components. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2016;408:2781–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    De Haan PV. Physics and fingerprints. Contemp Phys. 2006;47:209–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Wang Y, Wang J, Ma Q, Li Z, Yuan Q. Recent progress in background-free latent fingerprint imaging. Nano Res. 2018;11:1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Lennard C. Fingermark detection and identification: current research efforts. Aust J Forensic Sci. 2014;463:293–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hazarika P, Russell DA. Advances in fingerprint analysis. Angew Chem Int Ed. 2012;51:3524–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Wei Q, Zhang M, Ogorevc B, Zhang X. Recent advances in the chemical imaging of human fingermarks (a review). Analyst. 2016;141:6172–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bailey MJ, Bright NJ, Croxton RS, Francese S, Ferguson LS, Hinder S, et al. Chemical characterization of latent fingerprints by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization, time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry, mega electron volt secondary mass spectrometry, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, X-ray photoelectron spec. Anal Chem. 2012;84:8514–23.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Huynh C, Brunelle E, Halámková L, Agudelo J, Halámek J. Forensic identification of gender from fingerprints. Anal Chem. 2015;87:11531–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cadd S, Islam M, Manson P, Bleay S. Fingerprint composition and aging: a literature review. Sci Justice. 2015;55:219–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Francese S, Bradshaw R, Ferguson LS, Wolstenholme R, Clench MR, Bleay S. Beyond the ridge pattern: multi-informative analysis of latent fingermarks by MALDI mass spectrometry. Analyst. 2013;138:4215–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ifa DR, Manicke NE, Dill AL, Cooks RG. Latent fingerprint chemical imaging by mass spectrometry. Science. 2008;321:805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Rowell F, Hudson K, Seviour J. Detection of drugs and their metabolites in dusted latent fingermarks by mass spectrometry. Analyst. 2009;134:701–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Tang X, Huang L, Zhang W, Zhong H. Chemical imaging of latent fingerprints by mass spectrometry based on laser activated electron tunneling. Anal Chem. 2015;87:2693–701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ferguson LS, Wulfert F, Wolstenholme R, Fonville JM, Clench MR, Carolan VA, et al. Direct detection of peptides and small proteins in fingermarks and determination of sex by MALDI mass spectrometry profiling. Analyst. 2012;137:4686–92.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Muramoto S, Sisco E. Strategies for potential age dating of fingerprints through the diffusion of sebum molecules on a nonporous surface analyzed using time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry. Anal Chem. 2015;87:8035–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Morelato M, Beavis A, Kirkbride P, Roux C. Forensic applications of desorption electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (DESI-MS). Forensic Sci Int. 2013;226:10–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Worley CG, Wiltshire SS, Miller TC, Havrilla GJ, Majidi V. Detection of visible and latent fingerprints using micro-X-ray fluorescence elemental imaging. J Forensic Sci. 2006;51:57–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Langstraat K, Knijnenberg A, Edelman G, van de Merwe L, van Loon A, Dik J, et al. Large area imaging of forensic evidence with MA-XRF. Sci Rep. 2017;7:15056.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Solé VA, Papillon E, Cotte M, Walter P, Susini J. A multiplatform code for the analysis of energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectra. Spectrochim Acta B At Spectrosc. 2007;62:63–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Cai L, Xia MC, Wang Z, Zhao YB, Li Z, Zhang S, et al. Chemical visualization of sweat pores in fingerprints using GO-enhanced TOF-SIMS. Anal Chem. 2017;89:8372–6.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CAS Key Laboratory for Biomedical Effects of Nanomaterials and Nanosafety, Institute of High Energy PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Institute of Forensic ScienceMinistry of Public SecurityBeijingChina
  4. 4.Research Center for Analytical Sciences, Department of Chemistry, College of SciencesNortheastern UniversityShenyangChina
  5. 5.Institute of Health SciencesAnhui UniversityHefeiChina
  6. 6.Bruker Scientific Technology Co. LtdShanghaiChina
  7. 7.Beijing Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Institute of High Energy PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations