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5 Breakthrough Advancements in Forensic Science

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Updated: February 2, 2024, Reading time: 4 minutes

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The sciences have always been integral to the process of solving crimes, but in the modern age, Forensic Science is turning to innovative technologies to ensure the reliability and efficiency of forensic testing.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) invested over $127 million in Forensic R&D to equip scientists and technicians in crime laboratories with sophisticated technologies. These innovations also assist the police, crime investigators, and other professionals involved in the field of Forensic Science in unraveling pieces of evidence that would otherwise be hidden forever.

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Forensic Science Technologies At A Glance

These innovative technologies used in criminal investigations are invaluable in uncovering irrefutable evidence of crimes and bringing the perpetrators to justice:

The following emerging technologies in Forensic Science and Criminal Justice minimize human error and sample contamination:

5 Breakthrough Advancements in Forensic Science

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Let’s break down the specific techniques, equipment, tools, and technologies that are making waves in Forensic Science.

Fluorometer

A fluorometer is used in fluorometry, a spectrophotometric technique based on the ability of molecules to absorb light. Providing a “precise quantitation” of biological molecules, fluorometers are indispensable in forensic labs. They are used for visualizing latent fingerprints, determining gunshot residue (GSR), and examining other forms of trace evidence.

A related application, called fluorescence spectroscopy, uses fluorescent nanosensors to measure oxygen levels in biological fluids.

Carbon Dot Powders

The significance of fingerprints cannot be overstated in forensic investigations. However, factors such as high toxicity, low contrast, and low sensitivity cause issues in obtaining precise fingerprint data. 

Fluorescent carbon dot powders or C-dots solve this problem by making fingerprints appear fluorescent under UV light and improving contrast against patterned or multicolor backgrounds.

C-dots are also excellent substances that detect traces of drugs, explosives, poisonous reactants, and heavy metals. When mixed with ink and polymeric formulations, they can be used as cost-effective barcodes and security nanotags to prove authenticity and identify counterfeit products.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence is revolutionizing forensic medicine and toxicology processes in crime investigations. It is particularly useful in toxin analysis, detection of pathological changes in the organs, medicolegal sample collection, weapon detection, and body stain identification. 

AI is also integrated into existing analysis and testing processes to improve accuracy and efficacy.

Foldscope 

The Foldscope microscope is an affordable tool that can be used as an alternative to traditional microscopy. It is a welcome alternative to the expensive, conventional microscope with a complicated structure.

Anyone can use the Foldscope and examine forensic samples without any special expertise, which is why it is also a popular new device in public health labs, agriculture facilities, developmental biology sites, and clinical diagnostics laboratories.

Proteomics

A potential breakthrough in error-free and efficient DNA profiling, proteomics analyzes proteins directly and can fill in when DNA is ambiguous or missing. This method improves findings in determining the type of fluid, tissue, or fingerprint residue left behind at the crime scene. 

Forensic proteomics is particularly useful in investigations involving protein-based drugs, sports doping hormones, or toxins. It also helps determine if a disease occurred naturally or is caused by a biological attack.

Ready for a Career in Forensic Science?

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Law enforcement investigators, scientists, and technicians in crime labs rely heavily on today’s state-of-the-art technologies, tools, and equipment for efficiency and accuracy. However, it is equally important for forensic professionals to have earned the right education and training from some of the most innovative universities in the US.

Pursuing Forensic Science and Forensic Chemistry master’s programs after completing your undergraduate degree allows you to specialize further in this field.

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