Date of Degree

9-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Criminal Justice

Advisor

Thomas A Kubic

Committee Members

John A. Reffner

John R. Lombardi

Subject Categories

Forensic Science and Technology

Keywords

fibers, dyes, extractions, criminalistics, Raman, sers

Abstract

Fibers are a common piece of evidence found at crime scenes that may become a link between the scene and a suspect, or allow for the reconstruction of certain crime events. Although a big portion of fibers are still white cottons, the advancement of commercial fiber production and dyeing in the past century led to an increase in types of synthetic fibers and dye applications that can be found and used in forensic analyses. Nonetheless, the fiber evidentiary value is not fully explored, as for the most part, the separation and analysis of the dye on the fiber is not routinely done. This is mostly because traditional methods for dye analysis require lengthy or expensive procedures, combining extractions or hydrolysis, solvent tailoring, separation procedures such as TLC or HPLC, and potential mass-spectrometry for the extract identification. Currently, the prescribed method of fiber forensic analysis involves the fiber macro and microscopical examination, determination of optical properties, cross-sectioning, and spectrophotometric and infrared analysis. In the case where fibers of same polymer make have similar colors that cannot be separated by spectrophotometric analysis, there is still a chance that those fibers could have been dyed using differing dyes. It is possible to analyze those dyes by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, a method which allows for high enhancements of low concentration, microliter volume samples, allowing the analyst to extract single fibers in small volumes of solvents.b This research focused on the comparison of solvent systems, alongside hydrofluoric acid fuming and in situ SER analysis, to develop a working routine for forensic fiber dye analysis. The research was also expanded to simulate casework, showing that the extraction methods coupled with SERS and statistical analysis can be used to differentiate and successfully classify questioned fibers when compared to known sets. Tweaks and improvements to the method of analysis are presented by either acid-addition, or use of coffee-ring – SERS analysis on high performance thin-layer chromatography plates. Methods of improvement and further research are also presented, with the scope of validating of SERS by both forensic science and the courts. Because this project presents a novel approach to the completion of forensic fiber analyses, it shows that SERS can be a valuable tool and aid in the improvement of forensic science and the criminal justice system. The presented approach shows a successful, rapid and inexpensive technique that can also be expanded and utilized for the analysis of other evidence types.

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