White collar crims burnt by extreme fingerprinting

Aussie technology speeds up corporate crime investigations.

A captured fingerprint. Photo credit: UTS

A captured fingerprint. Photo credit: UTS

Corporate crime scenes could be cleaned up in minutes, not hours, thanks to locally developed technology that uses extreme heat to reveal fingerprints.

The world first system, developed by two honours students from the University of Technology, Sydney, uses short bursts of extreme heat to uncover fingerprints on paper documents, removing the need for laborious testing with toxic chemicals.

The students, Adam Brown and Daniel Sommerville, said the technology could be used in portable fingerprint imaging devices directly at the crime scene.

UTS science faculty senior lecturer Dr Brian Reedy, who oversaw the project, said the technology can process many more documents than is possible using chemical solutions.

“Nobody wants to sort through hundreds of pages of documents to find fingerprints; it’s just not worth their time. But if they had a mobile device where they could simply throw documents through, similar to a photocopier, then many more results would be produced,” Dr Reedy said.

“If you heat the fingerprint for more than a few seconds you get a scorch mark, which is actually the fingerprint. You can improve the contrast of the scorch mark by placing it under an Ultraviolet light.”

“The safety requirements for using standard practice chemicals in police labs has made the process very expensive,” he said, adding the existing fingerprinting technology is also labour intensive and time consuming.

Brown and Sommerville discovered the technique by accident when researching new reagents to produce colour fingerprints.

Fingerprints are reveled by exposing paper to bursts of heat up to 300 degrees Celsius for 10 to 20 seconds, with development taking between 5 and 20 seconds.

Reedy said the process is comparable to using a blowtorch, adding “you could almost do this at home with a toaster”.

A patent application has been lodged and Foster & Freeman, a company that develops scientific instruments for police and forensic laboratories worldwide, has purchased the license.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags UTSfingerprinting

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Kathryn Edwards

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?