Bin Su, the lead author on the research paper, which was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, told Discovery News, "We can either make the substrate glow or the fingerprint glow."
Making the substrate glow produces a negative image; making the fingerprint glow produces a positive image. In either one, fine details in the fingerprints, like ridge patterns, branches and ends of lines and even pore size can be seen through this process.
The researchers tested this in a lab, but Bin Su said that the technique could be used in real life: "Fingerprints on real life substrates can be transferred by lifting them from the substrates to electrodes using a special tape. The process is simple and handy." Su said that his team also experimented with transferring fingerprints from different substrates including a coin, a desk, a computer screen and a disk.
BLOG: Fingerprints Lifted from Fabric
The researchers also found that their method could be used to determine whether the owner of the fingerprint had been using drugs. Because the signature of metabolized drugs are secreted through the pores in the hand, a solution designed to reveal them could be used to analyze the fingerprint for illegal substances.