The laser is known as a superior light-source tool the forensics community uses to identify trace evidence. Lasers are slowly replacing commonly used filtered lamps, primarily because of a new generation of portable, compact, low-power consumption lasers such as Coherent’s TracER™. TracER, and lasers like TracER, has the ability to detect latent fingerprints, bone fragments, skin, traces of body fluids, and other physical and biological artifacts. The mechanism by which the laser can reveal trace evidence is known as fluorescence, either inherent in the material or induced by treatment of the material with a fluorescence dye or other reagents. Optimum images and spectral discrimination are best obtained with a 532 nm, 5-Watt laser.
This paper will describe the use of lasers in forensic sciences, with special emphasis in a coroners’ crime laboratory, the safety challenges presented to forensics specialists working with a Class 4, visible laser, and the unique and clever eye protection measures they use to protect themselves and others working in the control area.