Date
18 December 2017
Professor Tang Benzhong (R) along with a research college from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Photo: HKUST
Professor Tang Benzhong (R) along with a research college from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Photo: HKUST

HKUST unveils new fingerprint collection technology

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has discovered new Aggregation-Induced Emission (AIE) materials that will help produce better-quality fingerprints compared to the existing method of using carbon powder, and also cut the time for evidence collection by 90 percent, Sing Tao News reported Thursday.

Using AIE materials, fingerprints collected can be transmitted by taking a photograph. And the new materials can also serve as an accurate agent in detecting bacterial activities.

The HKUST research team, led by Professors Tang Benzhong and Stephen Cheong, had discovered the AIE phenomenon in 2001, and the team’s latest discoveries have extended the use of AIE materials to forensic science and bacterial detection.

Traditionally, police officers have been using carbon powder to obtain fingerprints by dusting the powder over a fingerprint before lifting it onto an adhesive tape. However, such method is not only time-consuming, but its accuracy could be affected as carbon powder could fall off the tape and part of the fingerprint image could be lost.

Using AIE materials, it is now possible to obtain fingerprints off bended, round and uneven surfaces and the cost of each fingerprint retrieval is only 0.3 HK cent. The HKUST has been in dialogue with the police with regard to deploying the new technology. However, it is believed that it will still take a fair amount of time as a number of requirements and procedures for evidence collection must be met and completed.

The AIE materials can also be used as bacterial detecting agent, as it provides accurate and stable results than the commonly-used propidium iodine (PI), which exposes the bacteria by staining its surface.

With the new method, up to 90 percent of the bacteria can still survive, hence ensuring higher accuracy of the test results, while the cost of each test is as low as 20 HK cents.

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