the forensic institute

Student Projects: The Forensic Institute Research Network (FIRN)

The Scanning Kelvin Probe (SKP) for the visualisation of fingerprints on metal surfaces

The work to be presented will focus on the potentiometric imaging of fingerprints on metal surfaces using scanning Kelvin probe (SKP) technology 1,2. The method allows the user to visualise fingerprints directly in the form of two or three dimensional digital images without using a developer or making contact with the surface.

The technique works by taking potential measurements from a scanning vibrating gold probe. The surface potential can change with surface contaminants or due to interactions between the surface contaminant and the substrate e.g. corrosion. Fingerprint deposits affect the surface potential of the metal substrate and hence they can be visualised. The instrument is currently designed for small exhibits including bullet cartridge cases.

The basic operation of the SKP will be described complete with advantages and disadvantages of the method.


Mr Hefin Dafydd143422@swansea.ac.uk; Dr Geraint Williams (supervisor) geraint.williams@swansea.ac.uk). Swansea University

Oral presentations

Cognitive style, processing sets and face recall >>

The Scanning Kelvin Probe (SKP) for the visualisation of fingerprints on metal surfaces >>

Investigation into the user of parallel processing techniques to speed up file carving using Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) >>

Assessment of the validity of using pigs as a model for humans in forensic entomology studies >>

Chemical processes at fingerprint-metal interfaces >>

Determination of visual thresholds of image usefulness in fingerprint compression >>

The use of ion beams for forensic analysis >>

General purpose graphics processing units in security >>

An investigation into the use of dehydration as a method of preserving dna in biological forensic samples >>

Real world detection of cocaine at the picogram level in an urban environment >>