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Forensic Application of

By: Team Yellow
September 15,2010

Fiber as
Trace evidence
Collected and analyzed when there has been a personal

- homicide, assault, sexual offenses
- hit-and-run, other vehicle accidents
- burglaries
- can remain intact for years
- easily transferred
- class characteristics only
- adhering problems due to type of fiber or type of

Uses in forensic science labs

Examine transferred fibers and compare them to

a known or reference fiber to find its origin

Fluorescence of the dyes are added to fibers
Identification/Comparison: 1) Type e.g. synthetic
and 2) Subtype e.g. nylon
Main classification scheme: method of dye
Ex) acid (wool or silk), basic (polyester),
direct (cotton or rayon), disperse (polyester or
acetate) dyes
Cannot identify a particular dye or mixture of dyes

Analytical Methods
Polarized light microscopy (PLM)

Energy dispersive X-ray analysis

Thin layer chromatography (TLC)
High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)
Pyrolysis gas chromatography (PGC)
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy
Raman spectroscopy
UV-VIS & Fluorescence MSP: nondestructive,

prevent contamination, decrease overall

analysis, are direct, and inexpensive

The technique of measuring the light absorbed, reflected,

or emitted by a microscopic specimen at different

wavelengths. (The Free Dictionary)
VIS, UV/VIS, and fluorescence microspectrophotometry
offer direct, relatively inexpensive, and informative means
of characterizing dyed fibers.
(Morgan, et al., 2004. p.1)
Cantrell collected and analyzed over 3,000 types of fibers
from movie theater seats and concluded that;
- Even though fibers are mass-produced, most fibers
exhibit high variability.
- Fluorescence, in particular, was found to add
considerable discrimination even within common fiber
class/color combinations.
(Morgan, et al., 2004)

Light Source: UV-VIS uses Xenon, Fluorescence

MSP uses Mercury lamp

Detector: QDI 1000 Microspectrophotometer
(MSP) using GRAMS/AI 7.00 software for data

100 scans of four different yellow fibers where taken and

averaged over a spectrum range of 200-850nm

Two multivarient data analysis to record and obtain numerous
spectra with more than one feature
1. Principle Component Analysis (PCA)
--Unsupervised technique
--Determines linear combinations between original
variations and maximum variations of data set
2. Linear Discrimination Analysis (LDA)
--Supervised technique

--Determine linear combinations of features that best

separate the data into two or more predefined groups

UV-VIS using PCA vs. LDA

Excitation and Emission


Fluorescence excitation and emission spectra of LysoTracker Red

in pH 5.2 buffer

Emission Spectra

Emission spectra of dyed fibers

(Morgan, et al., 2004)

Emission Spectra

Emission spectra of red acrylic fiber using different excitation

(Morgan, et al., 2004)

Absorption vs. Fluorescence spectrum of 3 red

polyester fibers (at excitation 546nm)

Potential problems,
When dealing with fibers you must know a head

of time the general chemical nature, i.e.: Acidic,

basic, or neutral
Two other types of interference are: extraction
solvents & possible degradations e.g. organic
solvents used in the extraction of the fiber dye
can either negatively impact the separation or
present interferences to a UVvisible detector
Solution: Antioxidants, prompt analysis, and low
extraction temperatures are used to combat
against dyes that have been degraded

1. The groups of fluorescence spectra can be

visually distinguished from one another, which

cannot be done with the UV-VIS spectra
2. At least for certain fiber/dye combinations,
fluorescence spectra appear to exhibit higher
discrimination power than UV-VIS absorbance
Fluorescing textile fiber with
365 nm excitation. (Photo and
spectra courtesy Dr. Paul Martin,
CRAIC Technologies Corp.)

Invitrogen. (2010). Product spectra. Retrieved from

Microspectrophotometry. The American Heritage
Medical Dictionary. (2007). Retrieved from
Morgan, S. L., Nieuwland, A. A., Mubarak, C. R.,
Hendrix, J. E., Enlow, E. M., & Vasser, B. J. (2004).
Forensic discrimination of dyed textile fibers using
UV-VIS and fluorescence microspectrophotometry.
Proceedings of the European Fibres Group, 25 May
2004. Retrieved from