Forensic science, a critical facet of modern justice, has seen a profound transformation with technological advancements. Today’s forensic labs are high-tech hubs, embracing sophisticated technologies to solve complex crimes, thereby increasing accuracy and speed .
One of the most significant developments in forensic science has been the advent and enhancement of DNA sequencing. Short Tandem Repeat (STR) analysis, considered the “gold standard” of forensic DNA analysis, scrutinizes areas of DNA with repeating base pairs, providing a unique identifier, much like a genetic fingerprint .
Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS)
NGS has revolutionized the forensic landscape. Unlike conventional methods, NGS sequences millions of tiny DNA fragments simultaneously, providing more detailed genetic profiles .
- Detailed genetic profiling
- Higher throughput
- Complexity of data analysis
- High cost
Digital forensics involves collecting and analyzing electronic data to reconstruct past cyber activities, critical in solving cybercrimes.
Computer and Network Forensics
As cybercrimes surge, computer and network forensics become vital. They identify unauthorized network intrusions and recover data from computers involved in illicit activities .
Mobile forensics pertains to recovering digital evidence or data from a mobile device. It’s growing increasingly important with the ubiquity of smartphones .
- Provides critical digital evidence
- Recovers lost or deleted data
- Rapid technology evolution
- Encryption challenges
Biometric identification refers to identifying individuals based on their distinct physical or behavioral traits.
Despite new technologies, fingerprint identification remains the most widely used biometric in forensic science due to its uniqueness and permanence .
Facial recognition technology identifies individuals by comparing facial features from digital images or video frames with stored facial information .
- Instantaneous results
- Privacy concerns
- Possibility of false positives
Imaging technology, like 3D imaging and infrared imaging, helps analyze evidence non-invasively.
3D imaging has been particularly beneficial in analyzing and recreating crime scenes, demonstrating potential injuries, or even aging a missing person’s photograph .
Infrared imaging can detect trace evidence, like latent fingerprints or bodily fluids, not visible to the naked eye .
- Non-invasive evidence analysis
- Visual appeal for court presentations
- Requires technical expertise
- High equipment costs
Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS)
This technology has greatly improved the speed and accuracy of fingerprint identification. AFIS uses digital imaging technology to obtain, store, and analyze fingerprint data. The automated nature of this system allows it to quickly search large databases of fingerprints and provide potential matches within minutes .
- Fast and efficient fingerprint comparison
- Ability to handle large databases
- Quality of initial fingerprint can impact results
- Costly to implement and maintain
Mass spectrometry, a tool to identify chemicals based on the mass-to-charge ratio of ions, is a crucial part of forensic toxicology. With the aid of gas chromatography, forensic scientists can identify substances present in samples related to a crime, such as illegal drugs or toxins .
- High sensitivity and specificity
- Ability to identify unknown substances
- Requires skilled operation
- Costly equipment
Ballistics and Firearms Identification
With the use of high-definition microscopes and computerized databases, firearms identification has improved substantially. This includes comparing tool marks, cartridge cases, and bullet fragments to a specific firearm. Automated databases such as the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) can identify potential matches within large databases .
- Identification of firearm used in crime
- Potential linkage of crimes based on ballistic evidence
- Limited by condition of recovered evidence
- Requires expert interpretation
Technological advancements have undoubtedly expanded forensic science’s capacities. While each innovation brings unique challenges, ongoing research, and development promise to overcome these hurdles, augmenting the effectiveness and reliability of forensic investigations.
|DNA Sequencing||Detailed genetic profiling, High throughput||Complexity, High cost|
|Digital Forensics||Critical digital evidence, Data recovery||Rapid technology evolution, Encryption|
|Biometric Identification||Non-intrusive, Instantaneous results||Privacy concerns, False positives|
|Imaging Technology||Non-invasive analysis, Courtroom visual appeal||Technical expertise, High cost|
 Forensic Science in the 21st Century https://doi.org/10.1016/S0379-0738(00)00433-3
 Short Tandem Repeat (STR) Analysis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK234182/
 The Rise of Forensic Genomics https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-02921-2
 Mobile Device Forensics https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/computer-science/mobile-forensics
 Fingerprint Identification https://doi.org/10.1002/widm.1265
 Facial Recognition Technology https://doi.org/10.1177/00111287221150172
 3D Crime Scene Reconstruction https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1385/1-59259-946-X:63
 Infrared Spectroscopic Imaging https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jpclett.1c02306
 Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) https://www.ojp.gov/pdffiles1/nij/225326.pdf
 Forensic Applications of Mass Spectrometry https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/bk-2012-1111.ch001
 Firearm and Toolmark Identification https://www.nist.gov/system/files/documents/2016/11/28/swggun_foundational_report.pdf