This is the Final Summary Overview of a research project in which a team experienced in mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) of small molecules evaluated a MSI technique for forensic fingerprint analysis.
MSI is a state-of-the-art technique for surface chemical imaging due to its high sensitivity, label-free detection, and unbiased molecular characterization. The research team in the current project sought to overcome the current four major impediments in chemical fingerprints, i.e., 1) the limited sensitivity of low abundance small molecules, 2) ambiguity of chemical identifications. 3) the lack of robust protocols compatible with traditional forensic investigations, and 4) demonstration of unique applications. This report describes how the research team addressed each of these impediments. The report concludes that the team successfully demonstrated the potential of matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI)-MSI as a state-of-the-art forensic tool that can overcome previous limitations in forensic labs. It is still in an early stage to apply it in real forensic cases; however, with additional demonstration in more complex and currently impossible forensic mock cases, this technique has the potential to become a useful tool in forensic applications. Project reports and publications are listed.