Image Gallery: Digital Microscopy in Forensics – Examples From Ballistics, Document, and Trace Evidence Investigations

March 21, 2016

Forensics experts assist law enforcement all over the world to determine whether a suspect is guilty or innocent of a crime through examination of evidence. In their investigations, they use a broad range of macroscopes and microscopes, depending on the type of evidence. Digital microscopy also plays a role in forensics, such as in examination of evidence from firearms and tool marks, documents, forensic or legal medicine, hair and fibers as well as glass and paint.

In the image gallery below, you will find example images from ballistics, document, and trace evidence investigations.

One challenge in ballistics investigations is that bullets and cartridge cases alike are made of metal which can lead to reflections of light under the microscope. To see the finest details of any traces and marks, the reflections must be kept to a minimum or avoided. A way to achieve this is to tilt the microscope.

A common approach in document and handwriting investigation is to go into detail at higher magnification only after a suspicious area of the document has been identified during an lower scale overview. Frequent changes in magnification and objectives may be required.

Trace evidence specialists investigate a wide variety of materials, reaching from hair, fiber, glass, metal, paper, and paint to biological samples. Since these materials are very different in character, different kinds of illumination as well as low to high magnification may be required. Additionally, creating mosaics and 3D images may be important to get the full picture.

The images were taken with a Leica DVM6 digital microscope.