Pollen-coated Sticky Bullets Track a Gunman's DNAJun 20, 2012
by Paul Marks
Flowers and guns might conjure up images of flower power, but coating bullet casings in lily pollen could help forensic teams identify a gunman.
It is difficult to get useful DNA evidence from a spent bullet casing: copper and zinc ions from the brass alloy react with sweat to break down DNA, destroying evidence about who may have loaded a gun.
To combat this, Paul Sermon, a nanomaterials engineer at Brunel Univ. in London, is leading a government-funded team to develop forensic coatings for brass bullet cartridges. The initial idea was to coat a bullet with a biochemical that stuck to the hands of those who touched it, allowing police to test the hands of suspects. Then they hit on a technique that could also stash away skin cells from that person. "We've combined these to increase the probability of obtaining useful associative evidence," says Sermon.
Source: New Scientist