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Research That Will Have The Biggest Impact On The World

Published: 26th January 2010 10:43

Reseach that makes a difference

A pioneering breakthrough in forensic crime detection developed by Northamptonshire Police's Scientific Support Manager has won recognition from BBC Focus magazine.

Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Leicester’s Forensic Research Centre, Dr John Bond's, technique of ‘fingerprint visualising’ has been selected as one of the British innovations most likely to have the biggest impact on the world in the next few years by the magazine’s science, technology and future awards 2009.

A total of 14 innovations and an additional 6 ‘mini marvels’ were selected by an expert judging panel featuring Sir James Dyson best known for reinventing the vacuum cleaner; Lesley Gavin, futurologist for BT; Richard Noble, Project Director of ThrustSSC which holds the World Land Speed Record and Jem Stansfield, presenter of Bang Goes the Theory and creator of vacuum gloves.

Dr Bond said: “I am very surprised and overwhelmed by this prestigious award, particularly as the judges included such well known and successful inventors as Sir James Dyson. The award is for 'innovation most likely to impact the world significantly' and I very much hope that our work lives up to this and can be used to solve many crimes by law enforcement agencies across the world.”

Dr Bond’s innovation was first developed at his home using homemade components joined together by twisted wire and gaffer tape. It was developed further by Dr Bond working in collaboration with scientists at the University of Leicester Department of Chemistry.

The technique can reveal previously undiscovered fingerprints on metal, especially gun shell casings by applying a large voltage to the metal and adding ceramic beads coated with a fine powder to the surface which react with the corrosion on the metal left over from fingerprints, even after they have been wiped off, revealing the original fingerprint pattern. It is hoped that this new technique can provide breakthroughs on previously unsolved cases by revealing hidden evidence.

This recognition by BBC Focus magazine is not the first time Dr Bond’s pioneering technique has received acclaim; his method was described by Time magazine as one of the world’s top 50 inventions of 2008 and it has also been featured on a recent episode of US television show, America’s Most Wanted, the American equivalent of Crimewatch.

Dr Bond added: “We have been overwhelmed by how much interest there has been in this technique, mainly from the US but, of late, from many other countries including Canada, South Africa, Israel, the Caribbean and Hong Kong.  We currently have about one visit a month to our laboratory from overseas scientists to find out more about what we do.”


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