Analytical Chemistry

6-(N,N-Dimethylamino)fulvene: A Potential Precursor for a New Class of Fingermark Detection Reagents for Paper Surfaces


The ability to detect latent fingermarks on porous surfaces, such as paper-based documents, is extremely important in resolving criminal cases. Detection methods that target amino acids present in latent fingermark deposits have achieved widespread use due to the binding of these acids to paper fibres resulting in a good representation of the fingermark. This communication is the first report of 6-(N,N-dimethylamino)fulvene (DMAF) as a novel reagent for the detection of latent fingermarks on porous surfaces. Through observation of undergraduate students showing poor laboratory hygiene, we noted that exposure to DMAF leads to brown staining on the students’ skin. We discovered that indeed it can develop latent fingermarks on paper surfaces as pale pink impressions, which are luminescent when illuminated at 505 nm and viewed through orange goggles. The procedure is simple, requiring treatment of the specimen with a solution of DMAF in hexane with subsequent heat treatment. Preliminary experiments indicate that DMAF is reacting with the amino acids present in the latent fingermark.

Version notes

Version V2: Minor textual edits, addition of current address for co-author Version V3: Correction to compound name in title.


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Supplementary material

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DMAF Fingermark Reagent