* Purdue Center for Analytical Instrumentation Development
* Prosolia

* Fingerprints provide clues to more than just identity

November 11, 2008

Purdue technology makes television debut on CSI: Miami

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University forensic technology will be featured on the Nov. 24 episode of the hit CBS television series "CSI: Miami," bringing basic research from the laboratory into the living room of millions of viewers.

One might say the subject was "ripped from the headlines" of Science magazine. The episode, titled "Power Trip," airs at 10 p.m. Eastern Time and will feature a fingerprint analysis tool developed by Purdue professor R. Graham Cooks. A paper detailing the analysis process was published in the Aug. 8 issue of Science.

The device reads a fingerprint's chemical signature and can unearth fingerprints buried beneath others or reveal what a person recently handled, as well as create an image of the fingerprint for identity searches.

"The analysis of a fingerprint's chemical signature plays an important role in solving the case," said Cooks, Purdue's Henry Bohn Hass Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry. "It is gratifying to have technology we developed featured in such a popular show because it is important to highlight the practical applications that come from scientific endeavors."

Cooks, a co-founder of Purdue's Center for Analytical Instrumentation Development, and his research team created the analysis tool using technology Cooks developed called desorption electrospray ionization, or DESI.

Matt Partney and Corey Evett, writers for the show, said they are always looking for new and interesting ways to discover and process evidence on the show.

"We were excited about the DESI technology because it allowed us to get fingerprint evidence, something we do a lot of on the show, in a way we’d never done," Partney said.

Evett added, "The fact that the technology was so new helped immensely. DESI highlights just how quickly technology changes in the field of crime scene investigation."

Pete Kissinger, CEO of Prosolia Inc, the company that commercialized the DESI technology said a producer contacted the company for assistance in featuring the technology in an episode. One of the tools, called the Omni Spray® Ion Source, was sent for use on the show, and scientists from Prosolia helped generate data for the episode and advised writers, he said.

"The CSI series shows science in an exciting and entertaining way, which has a great impact in garnering students' interest in these fields," Kissinger said. "It shows how the chemistry they learn in class leads to advances in diagnosis and treatment of disease, detection of potential security threats and forensics, including many of the tools and tests shown on CSI."

Prosolia, Inc. was established in 2003 to commercialize technology arising from the laboratory of Professor R. Graham Cooks, Aston Laboratories of Mass Spectrometry at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. Professor Cooks and his research team have been innovators in the field of Mass Spectrometry for many years. Prosolia’s first product line, Omni Spray® Ion Source utilizes the revolutionary ambient ionization technology known as Desorption Electrospray Ionization (DESI). DESI is a simple, sensitive, gentle, and versatile ionization method that allows for the direct and rapid sampling of surfaces without any sample preparation.


Writer: Elizabeth Gardner, (765) 494-2081,

Sources: R. Graham Cooks, (765) 494-5263,

Peter Kissinger, (765) 497-5801,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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