Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Monday, 10 November 2008

Forensic work named top invention

The technique can only be used to find fingerprints on metal surfaces

A cutting edge forensic technique, developed in Northamptonshire, to find fingerprints on bullets has been named one of the greatest inventions of 2008.

The technique, developed by Dr John Bond, detects where sweat has corroded metal on bullets, even where it has been wiped off.

The work by Northants Police scientific support manager Dr Bond, is one of Time Magazine's top 50 inventions of 2008.

Dr Bond found the method worked well on metals such as brass, used for bullets.

Dr Bond, who is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Leicester's Forensic Research Centre, said it may also be possible, on fragments of bombs, to find prints of those who handled them before they exploded.

'Re-opening cases'

Time Magazine's citation, which puts the technique at number 39 in the list, says: "English physicist John Bond developed a technique for analysing fingerprints on a gun after it has been wiped clean.

"Sweat corrodes metal, so Bond applied an electrical charge and a fine carbon powder to a gun's corroded part, revealing a fingerprint pattern.

"Police are already using the four-month-old technology to reopen some cases."

The accolade puts the fingerprint visualisation alongside other creations, including a retail DNA test, and the baseball instant replay.

Speaking of his success, Dr Bond said: "We are very pleased that our work has been recognised in this way.

"Since this technique was published earlier in the year, we have been inundated with requests from police forces around the world to assist with unsolved crimes.

"I am pleased to say that, in a number of crimes, we have been able to visualise fingerprints where conventional techniques had been tried and had failed."

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