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March 12th, 2007
Hidden fingerprints can now be revealed quickly and reliably thanks to two developments in nanotechnology.
The current way of revealing hidden prints involves coating the marked surface with a watery suspension of gold nanoparticles, stabilised by citrate ions. Under acid conditions, the gold particles stick to the positively-charged molecules in the fingerprint. The print is then developed with a solution of silver ions, which undergo a chemical reaction to leave an outline of dark silver metal along the characteristic ridges of the fingerprint. But the gold solution is quite unstable, and the technique is difficult to reproduce from one test to another.
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