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Fingerprints provide clues to more than just identity
Date:9/23/2008

h a mass spectrometry technique developed in Cooks' lab.

Mass spectrometry works by first turning molecules into ions, or electrically charged versions of themselves, so their masses can be analyzed. Conventional mass spectrometry requires chemical separations, manipulations of samples and containment in a vacuum chamber for ionization and analysis. Cooks' technology performs the ionization step in the air or directly on surfaces outside of the mass spectrometer's vacuum chamber, making the process much faster and more portable, Ifa said.

The Purdue procedure performs the ionization step by spraying a stream of water in the presence of an electric field to create positively charged water droplets. Water molecules in the droplets contain an extra proton and are called ions. When the charged water droplets hit the surface of the sample being tested, they transfer their extra proton to molecules in the sample, turning them into ions. The ionized molecules are then vacuumed into the mass spectrometer to be measured and analyzed.

Researchers placed a section of tape containing a lifted fingerprint on a moving stage in front of the spectrometer. The spectrometer then sprayed small sections of the sample with the charged water droplets, obtaining data for each section and combining the data sets to create an analysis of the sample as a whole, Ifa said. Software was used to map the information and create an image of the fingerprint from the distribution and intensity of selected ions.

Additional co-authors of the paper are Nicholas E. Manicke and Allison L. Dill, graduate students in Purdue's chemistry department.


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Contact: Elizabeth K. Gardner
ekgardner@purdue.edu
765-494-2081
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert  

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