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Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy is capable of precise differentiation between re-dyed hair samples

NCJ Number
Scientific Reports Volume: 13 Dated: 2023
Samantha Higgins; Dmitry Kurouski
Date Published
May 2023
8 pages

This article presents a study that investigated the extent to which Surface Enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) can be used to reveal the coloration history of hair.


Scalp hairs are readily present at most crime scenes because an average person sheds around 100 hairs a day. Forensic experts analyze hair found at crime scenes to identify suspects involved in a crime. Many people color their hair on a regular basis. Therefore, confirmatory analysis of hair colorants can be extremely useful in forensic investigation of hair evidence. However, most currently available methods for analysis of hair colorants are invasive, destructive, or not reliable. Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is a minimally invasive, fast, and highly accurate technique that can be used to identify colorants present on hair. SERS is based on 106–108 enhancement of Raman scattering from molecules present in the close proximity to noble metal nanostructures. In this study, the authors investigate the extent to which SERS can be used to reveal coloration history of hair. The authors found that SERS enables nearly 100% identification of dyes of different color if those were applied on hair in the sequential order. The same accuracy was observed for colorants of different brand and type. Furthermore, SERS was capable of revealing the order in which two colorants were applied on hair. Finally, the authors demonstrated that SERS could be used to reveal hair coloration history if two randomly selected dyes of different color, brand and type were used to color the hair. These findings facilitate the need for forensic experts to account for hair that has been redyed and can be identified against a library of the same colorant combinations. (Published Abstract Provided)