Comprehensive Study Identifies fpNatural® IR Fluorescent Fingerprint Powders Amongst Most Effective Fingerprint Treatments


fingermarks are revealed on a polymer banknote using IR fluorescent powder

Home Office researchers have ranked fpNatural powder amongst the most effective techniques for developing fingerprints on the newly minted UK £5 polymer banknote.

Video: fingerprints are revealed on a polymer banknote dusted with fpNatural 1 powder


fpNatural 1 & 2 IR fluorescent powders



The Bank of England’s decision to transition from paper to new polymer banknotes in the UK has created a significant challenge to forensic examiners tasked with extracting valuable fingerprint information from the currency’s surface.

Fingermarks on banknotes can be of critical importance during the investigation of crime. Over the years, examiners have developed and refined a number of techniques for the recovery of marks on traditional paper banknotes. Unfortunately, most of these techniques are ineffective when applied to their newer polymer counterparts.

In response to the need for a better technique, suitable for polymer banknotes, researchers from foster+freeman, the Home Office Centre for Applied Science and Technology, the University of Surrey, and West Technology Systems Ltd. set out to conduct a thorough review of potential techniques and treatments.

In total, 16 fingermark visualisation processes were compared, all but one of which proved to be capable of revealing prints under normal viewing conditions.

However, under slightly more ‘difficult’ viewing conditions, with fingermarks placed over the banknote’s security features such as areas printed with fluorescent inks and the transparent window designed into the notes, it was foster+freeman’s fpNatural 1 and 2 powders that continued to produce high quality marks where other processes failed.

Unlike ‘standard’ fingerprint powders, foster+freeman’s fpNatural range emits intense fluorescence in the near-IR region of the spectrum. Invisible to the naked eye, near-IR fluorescence reveals bright high-contrast fingerprints while all background interference from the banknote is completely suppressed.

The full comparison study is set to be published in the June 2017 issue of Forensic Science International and can be accessed online here:

FSI Journal - Article Abstract

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