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Forensic Light Source Applications:

Wavelengths and Uses


The Who, What, Where, and When of Wavelengths

A Forensic Light Source is made up of a any crime scene investigator. In many cases,
powerful lamp containing the ultra-violet, the background surface will also glow under
visible and infrared components of light. light source illumination. In these cases it is
It then filters down the light into individual necessary to tune to a wavelength of light
color bands (wavelengths) that enhance the that causes the print to glow and not the
visualization of evidence by light interaction background.
techniques including White light.
fluorescence Body fluids Semen viewed with
(evidence glows), Since body fluids bandpass filter.
absorption like semen,
Wavelengths and Uses

CSS filter.
(evidence darkens), saliva, and vaginal
and oblique lighting (small fluids are naturally
particle evidence revealed). 455nm Narrow fluorescent, the
band.
use of a light source offers Semen viewed
Latent Fingerprint Detection a unique method for locating with longpass
The primary White light. them. A crime scene filter.
application of a investigator can narrow down
Forensic Light the specific locations of stains for collection
FLS Applications:

Source is for instead of testing entire, large pieces of


enhancing the evidence such as a mattress, a carpet, a
detection of latent fingerprints. sheet, an article of clothing, etc. The dried
415nm.
The use of fluorescent body fluids will actually glow under the light
enhancement processes that compliment source illumination. Although the body fluids
a light source greatly increases the types will fluoresce under an ordinary UV black light,
of surfaces from which a latent fingerprint many articles on which you would find them
can be detected. Consider the difficulties including clothing and sheets will also glow and
of dusting and lifting a print off of the hinder the evidence detection. It is therefore
following surfaces: thin plastic bags, rigid necessary to tune to longer wavelengths
duct tape, thin aluminum foil, heavily grained to eliminate the background interference
wood, concrete wall, brick, printed glossy (background rejection). Considering you may
magazine pages, paper products, etc. Using be searching for body fluids on high profile,
traditional methods, fingerprint evidence on capital crime cases, and with the advent and
these and other types of surfaces may go availability of DNA typing systems, the more
undetected or even dismissed because they body fluid evidence you can reveal the better.
could not be detected with enough detail. The more powerful your light source and
Forensic Light Source techniques have been the more wavelengths you have, the more
successfully utilized for revealing latent prints evidence you will uncover. Although blood
on these and many other types of textured does not glow in the visible range, it has a
surfaces, backgrounds which mask ridge unique wavelength under which the bloodstain
detail, fragile surfaces, and contaminated will darken to enhance its contrast by
surfaces. Different wavelengths are required approximately 4 times. This is most effective
for processing different types of surfaces in photographing blood prints because more
making a Forensic Light Source with tunable of the detail of the blood print will be revealed
or multiple wavelengths a coveted tool for by the enhanced contrast

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Hair and Fibers Gun Shot Residues/Explosive Residues
Two light illumination White light. There are several different CSS filter.
methods can be types of residues found both
employed to locate in ammunition and explosives,
hair and fibers which fluoresce. By using a
with a Forensic tunable Forensic Light Source,
Light Source. First, oblique or observations can be made on items without
CSS filter.
parallel lighting of a surface touching the surface, to see if fluorescent
such as a floor or carpet with a strong white residues are present. In addition, the scanning
light (the more powerful the better) will reveal, of any observers clothing after a shooting can
small particles like hair and fibers for collection. help in identifying where the shot came from
Second, some hair and fibers will also glow and who is the shooter due to the ejecta that
under UV or Blue light and will stand out comes from the barrel of the gun when it is
strongly for collection. fired. The same ejecta residue would also
appear on the hands of the shooter linking
Bruises/Bite Marks/Pattern Wounds them to the fired gun.
Forensic Light White light.
Sources may Human Bone Fragments, Tire Tracks, Shoe
reveal bruise and Prints, Drugs, etc…

Wavelengths and Uses


patterned wound Forensic Light
details that are Sources can White light.
invisible under normal white be used for
415nm.
light illumination. Details of a many different
bruise pattern in a suspects applications.
palm can link a suspect to a weapon. Those listed
Furthermore, details of a bruise on a victim, here are only a few of the CSS filter.
for instance, a bite mark or a shoe mark, compounds that will fluoresce

FLS Applications:
can link a suspect to the victim. Multiple in the environment. Users are
wavelengths are necessary because different encouraged to experiment, trying different
colors penetrate to different depths within the wavelengths on different surfaces. You may be
skin and therefore depending on the depth of surprised by what you find.
the bruise or wound you will need to vary the
wavelength of the instrument. Deep wounds These are only the main applications for
may require infrared illumination to get enough Forensic Light Sources. There are others,
skin penetration. like Arson Investigations, that people have
only begun exploring. The use of these
Questioned Documents instruments are limited only by the user's
Inks have different Reference. imagination.
formulations, Both viewed
even within the in IR.
same apparent,
visible, color Always wear protective goggles in
type. A tunable Forensic conjunction with any light source.
Light Source can be used to Questioned.
identify slight variations in ink
type by viewing ink responses as the color
of the light is tuned through the visible and
infrared regions. Regardless of the skill of the
forger, this examination would reveal that 2
different pens were used on the document.
Typically, visualization of evidence is in the IR
and requires the use of IR sensitive film or a Please illuminate responsibly.
Digital/Video camera with IR sensitivity.

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1.800.GET.SPEX • 1.732.623.8335 • questions@mail.crimescope.com
Spectrum and Applications
at a Glance
The Portion of the Electromagnetic Spectrum that Matters to Forensics

INCREASING WAVELENGTH

INCREASING ENERGY

In general, Forensic and Alternate Light Sources emit high-intensity ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light. Exposure to these types of
radiation, even reflected or diffuse, can result in serious, and sometimes irreversible, eye and skin injuries. Never aim the light-guide at
Wavelengths and Uses

anyone. Never look directly into the light-guide or the optical ports of an instrument. Always wear appropriate eye and skin protection
when using ANY Forensic or Alternate Light Source.

ITEM SEARCH GOGGLE CAMERA FILTER


SHOEPRINTS WHITE (OBLIQUE ANGLE) CLEAR OR YELLOW NONE
TREATED MUD SHOEPRINTS POROUS SURFACE 535, TREAT WITH DFO RED RED BP/LP BP600
TREATED MUD SHOEPRINTS NON-POROUS SURFACE TREAT W/Safranin O OR 455/CSS – Basic Yellow ORANGE ORANGE BP550
HAIR (UNTREATED – BLACK) WHITE (OBLIQUE ANGLE) CLEAR NONE
HAIR (TREATED OR RED/BLONDE) 415/CSS YELLOW ORANGE YELLOW ORANGE
BONE 455/CSS/515 ORANGE ORANGE
FLS Applications:

TEETH 455/CSS/515 ORANGE ORANGE


FINGERNAILS 455/CSS/515 ORANGE ORANGE
BODY FLUIDS (START) CSS ORANGE 1-2 ORANGE
(Dark surfaces and for saliva) UV clear/yellow YELLOW
(Dark surfaces show ‘crusty’ spot) WHITE (OBLIQUE ANGLE) clear NONE
BITE MARK/BRUISE (FRESH) 415/445 yellow 1–2 YELLOW
TO 455/CSS/515 ORANGE 1–2 ORANGE
(OLDER) 535/555/575 RED RED BP600
GSR: GUN SHOT RES. 455/CSS ORANGE 2 ORANGE/BP550
CSS ORANGE 2 ORANGE/BP550
BLOOD (UNTREATED) 415 CLEAR OR YELLOW NONE/BP415
BLOOD (TREATED) W/FLUORESCEIN 455 ORANGE ORANGE/BP550
DFO PRINTS 455 ORANGE 2 ORANGE/BP550
(ON FLUORESCING BACKGROUNDS) 535/555 RED 1-2 RED BP600
(ON NON-FLUORESCING BACKGROUNDS) SP575 RED 1-2 RED BP600
NINHYDRIN 555/575/600/630 OR WHITE CLEAR NONE
NINHYDRIN/ZnCL 515/CSS CLEAR NONE/BP515
BASIC YELLOW 445 YELLOW 2 YELLOW
455/CSS ORANGE 2 ORANGE
RHODAMINE-6G 515 ORANGE 2 ORANGE/BP550
ARDROX UV CLEAR UV Blocking
415 YELLOW 1-2 YELLOW/BP500

Which Goggle to use? Nomenclature


Wavelength Goggles abbreviation definition
300 – 400 nm clear nm NANOMETER
415 – 445 nm yellow BP BAND PASS
455 – 515 nm orange LP LONG PASS
css orange SP SHORT PASS
535 – SP575 nm red CSS SP540

Please illuminate responsibly.


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What are Forensic Light Sources?
…and how do they compare to other alternate light sources?

Forensic Light Source (fə-rĕn'sĭk) (līt) (sôrs) abbr: price of one “complete” LED kit, a department could
FLS, n. A high intensity, multiple wavelength, bulb purchase 1 better equipped, Higher Power, battery
based, alternate light source designed specifically powered FLS.
for use in Forensic Applications. New portable lasers may deliver on their promise
Of all the classes of alternate light sources: of high power in the green, but, cannot deliver any
Laboratory lasers are high power but also have the power in the rest of the spectrum. Portable or
highest price and they lack versatility. Lab based FLS can deliver high power across the
spectrum, allowing for the use of a wide range of
LEDs are lowest in price but also lowest in power powders and chemicals. The ability to use many
and they lack versatility. chemicals and powders is necessary as evidence is
Forensic Light Sources are high power, moderately found on a wide range of colored surfaces.
priced and are extremely versatile. An FLS can provide versatility unmatched by any

Wavelengths and Uses


Lasers other class of instrument. With multiple integrated
Traditionally Lasers were used primarily for lab work wavelengths, an FLS provides the ability to change
due to the large footprint and cooling requirements. wavelengths to find the optimal wavelength for
While lasers have become more portable with causing evidence to fluoresce and backgrounds to
higher powers, they are still not versatile since they fade. This is background rejection. A concept not
are only one wavelength. Bringing a green laser discussed by other classes of instruments.
to the crime scene is nice if you are going to use Simplest of all, a multiple wavelength FLS provides
Rhodamine or DFO for every surface. Background unparalleled ease of use. No light source offering

FLS Applications:
rejection is not possible and many fingerprints, body multiple wavelengths is as easy to use. With
fluids, and trace samples will remain obscured on integrated, one hand control, changing wavelengths
variously colored backgrounds if you have only one is as easy as “flicking your thumb”. No components
wavelength available. to swap, no slides to switch, no separate remote
LED based ALS controls.
LED’s offer portability but require you to carry As with all of our products, we suggest you
many parts to the crime scene. In their lowest cost compare. We can provide a loaner unit of any of
configuration they forgo versatility for compactness. our FLS, at no cost, to compare side by side to
However, a single wavelength LED is for all intents any other unit on the market. We are confident
and purposes an expensive blue light. They suffer that when you try our units you will be satisfied it is
from the same problems the blue lights and lasers everything we said it would be.
encounter, lack of wavelengths. Again, this prevents
adequate background subtraction. When properly Wavelength Availability by Class of Instrument
configured with optional wavelengths, they are no UV Blue Green Red IR
longer cheap. They approach the price, and many Laser – – ✓ – –
time exceed the price of a better equipped FLS! So
LED – ✓ ✓ ✓ –
configured, the LED’s become more cumbersome
to use, requiring the swapping of parts or units. FLS ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓
Additionally, LED units suffer from diffuse UV = 300nm to 400nm
illumination spots. A large wide spot is nice
for searching a room, but when it comes to Overall Value
photography, the diffuse spot wastes light. Versatility Cost Power
Forensic Light Sources Laser – – ✓
FLS are the perfect mix of power, price, and LED – ✓ –
versatility. FLS ✓ ✓ ✓
For the price of one portable laser, a department
could purchase 2 or 3 better equipped FLS. For the
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1.800.GET.SPEX • 1.732.623.8335 • questions@mail.crimescope.com