Despite the common use of fingerprints as a trusted means of identification, no method currently exists to reliably establish the time since deposition of latent fingerprints. A reproducible method of establishing latent fingerprint age would allow forensic personnel to determine if a latent fingerprint was relevant to a crime.
This work investigates the ambient aging of triacylglycerols (TGs) and other lipids in latent fingerprint residue utilizing matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry imaging. Unsaturated TGs were found to undergo ambient ozonolysis resulting in a decrease over time. At the same time, two series of compoun
ds related to the degradation of unsaturated TGs due to ambient ozonolysis emerged with time and were detectable within a single day of aging. Tracking the degradation of unsaturated TGs over time proved to be relatively reproducible in multiple individuals and is suggested as a means of establishing latent fingerprint age.