The authors lay out their examination of the advantages and limitations of two vibrational techniques for forensic examination of hair samples: infrared spectroscopy and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy.
Forensic microscopy has been used in forensic hair analysis to determine the racial origin of hair samples. However, this technique is subjective and often inconclusive. Although this problem can be mostly solved with the use of DNA analysis, which can identify the genetic code, biological sex, and racial origin from a strand of hair, this PCR-based analysis of hair is time- and labor-consuming. Infrared (IR) spectroscopy and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) are emerging analytical techniques that can be used to advance forensic analysis of hair by enabling confirmatory identification of hair colorants. The authors note, however, that it remains unclear whether the race/ethnicity, sex, and age of individuals should be considered upon IR spectroscopy- and SERS-based analysis of hair. Their results showed that both techniques enabled robust and reliable analyses of hair of different races/ethnicities, sexes, and age groups colored using four different permanent and semipermanent colorants. They also found that SERS could be used to identify the race/ethnicity, sex, and age of the individuals via spectroscopic analysis of colored hair, whereas IR spectroscopy was capable of accurately revealing this important anthropological information only from uncolored hair. These results outlined some advantages and limitations of both vibrational techniques in the forensic examination of hair samples. Publisher Abstract Provided