Fingerprints discovered on counterfeit bank notes can now be traced to an exact stage in the production process due to ground-breaking research carried out in Huddersfield.

Scientists at Huddersfield University have discovered a technique for taking fingerprints from laser-printed paper and, crucially, detecting whether or not the mark was made before or after it was printed on.

Dr Benjamin Jones, senior lecturer in the university’s Applied Sciences department has headed a team which has produced an award-winning article describing the new technique.

The article explains: “In cases such as fraud or counterfeiting it can be imperative to know whether a fingerprint has been deposited before or after the paper is printed with compromising material and therefore be able to assess whether a suspect is associated with the printed evidence.”

The project received £170,000 funding from The Leverhulme Trust which makes awards in support of research and education.

Dr Benjamin Jones has carried out new research into fingerprint forensics at Huddersfield University.
Dr Benjamin Jones has carried out new research into fingerprint forensics at Huddersfield University.
 

Dr Jones and his team discovered that a scientific technique known as secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) – which analyses surfaces at the microscale – can provide a detailed chemical map of the layers on laser-printed paper, including fingerprints, and the order in which they were deposited. The article called Proof of Concept was published in the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences Journal and awarded the PW Allen Award. This is presented to the most meritorious paper published in the Science & Justice journal each year.

Dr Jones’ previous work at University College London aimed to discover if it was possible to recover data from mobile phones that had been destroyed in explosions.

This work led to developing the use of surface-sensitive techniques that could then be applied to other areas of forensics, such as fingerprints, and is part of ongoing research in association with the Home Office.