Fast Imaging of Eccrine Latent Fingerprints with Nontoxic Mn-Doped ZnS QDs

Fingerprints are unique characteristics of an individual, and their imaging and recognition is a top-priority task in forensic science. Fast LFP (latent fingerprint) acquirement can greatly help policemen in screening the potential criminal scenes and capturing fingerprint clues. Of the two major latent fingerprints (LFP), eccrine is expected to be more representative than sebaceous in LFP identification. Here we explored the heavy metal-free Mn-doped ZnS quantum dots (QDs) as a new imaging moiety for eccrine LFPs. To study the effects of different ligands on the LFP image quality, we prepared Mn-doped ZnS QDs with various surface-capping ligands using QDs synthesized in high-temperature organic media as starting material. The orange fluorescence emission from Mn-doped ZnS QDs clearly revealed the optical images of eccrine LFPs. Interestingly, <i>N</i>-acetyl-cysteine-capped Mn-doped ZnS QDs could stain the eccrine LFPs in as fast as 5 s. Meanwhile, the levels 2 and 3 substructures of the fingerprints could also be simultaneously and clearly identified. While in the absence of QDs or without rubbing and stamping the finger onto foil, no fluorescent fingerprint images could be visualized. Besides fresh fingerprint, aged (5, 10, and 50 days), incomplete eccrine LFPs could also be successfully stained with <i>N</i>-acetyl-cysteine-capped Mn-doped ZnS QDs, demonstrating the analytical potential of this method in real world applications. The method was also robust for imaging of eccrine LFPs on a series of nonporous surfaces, such as aluminum foil, compact discs, glass, and black plastic bags.