A new way of analyzing hair samples at crime scenes may help police determine if hair dye was used.
According to Homeland Security News Wire:
Richard P. Van Duyne and Dmitry Kurouski note that analyzing hairs for forensic investigations, despite what TV shows would have you believe, can be a labor-intensive and flawed process. Testing samples for DNA requires an intact bulb or root, which is not always present. Plus, the procedure is time-consuming, which can cause a large backlog of cases. So investigators will often opt to use the more traditional method of visually comparing hair from a crime scene with samples from suspects using a microscope. This technique, however, does not necessarily provide conclusive results. Van Duyne and Kurouski wanted to find a more practical and accurate way to analyze hair.
Scientists involved used a surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), which is capable of determining whether hair dye was used, if a permanent or semipermanent colorants were used and distinguishing the commercial brands that are utilized to dye hair, according to a report in the American Chemical Society (ACS) journal Analytical Chemistry.