Polarization-based and specular-reflection-based noncontact latent fingerprint imaging and lifting

Shih Schön Lin, Konstantin M. Yemelyanov, Edward N Pugh Jr, Nader Engheta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


In forensic science the finger marks left unintentionally by people at a crime scene are referred to as latent fingerprints. Most existing techniques to detect and lift latent fingerprints require application of a certain material directly onto the exhibit. The chemical and physical processing applied to the fingerprint potentially degrades or prevents further forensic testing on the same evidence sample. Many existing methods also have deleterious side effects. We introduce a method to detect and extract latent fingerprint images without applying any powder or chemicals on the object. Our method is based on the optical phenomena of polarization and specular reflection together with the physiology of fingerprint formation. The recovered image quality is comparable to existing methods. In some cases, such as the sticky side of tape, our method shows unique advantages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2137-2153
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Optical Society of America A: Optics and Image Science, and Vision
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition


Dive into the research topics of 'Polarization-based and specular-reflection-based noncontact latent fingerprint imaging and lifting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this