Forensic experts hope proposals for a new research project will lead to the first major breakthrough in fingerprint technology for over 20 years.
The research will involve the use of microscopic (nano) particles which can bind to fingerprints to make them glow.
Northamptonshire Police Scientific Support Unit and scientists at St Andrew's University in Fife, Scotland will carry out the research.
The project is expected to last two years and could cost about £250,000.
Head of Northamptonshire Police Scientific Support Dr John Bond said: "If we are successful it will have a tremendous impact on enhancing fingerprints and hence increase fingerprint detections and will be the first major step forward in fingerprint technology since the 1980s.
"Amongst other things it will help solve the problems of seeing fingerprints on surfaces where the contrast against background is poor and also on surfaces that have become wet.
"The end result will mean that police find more fingerprints and detect more crime."
The research project has been approved but funding is now being sought from industry, the Forensic Science Service and the Home Office.