By: Lauren Perrodin
The technology in the CSI television show isn’t as far off as viewers might think. Things like a virtual autopsy table and bullet reconstruction systems are just a couple of the incredible advancements law enforcement and crime scene investigation have been able to develop.
If you’re unfamiliar, crime scene investigation (CSI) is a branch of the police force that helps to uncover the “why” and “who” after an illegal act has been committed. CSI professionals take photographs, measurements and collect evidence found at the scene to help the police force find out who committed a crime.
What’s new in the CSI sector?
The forensic science industry is growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook is projected to grow 11% in the next 10 years — more quickly than in previous years.
What’s more, the technology to facilitate a better investigation is improving. Uncovering the truth of a crime and giving families the closure they need is a gap that’s slowly closing with the advancements of technology and the ability to harness its capabilities.
Here are seven new forensic science advancements that have changed the landscape of CSI.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has permeated every industry and nearly every household in the U.S. While there are many uses for this technology, AI in forensic science has been employed primarily for autopsy and toxicology analysis.
It can manipulate human samples to uncover pathological changes, the use of a weapon, how long since the person was alive and more, according to a study by Cureaus. These calculations were previously dependent on human interpretation to frame an opinion; with AI, human error is nearly eliminated.
Nanocomposites for Forensic Analysis
A Polymers research study completed in August 2022 revealed that nanocomposites are being used for the inspection of terrorist activity. The department of CSI that deals with the identification and investigation of crimes can help to analyze the presence of toxic gas, explosives, and illicit drugs. The nanosensors are strong, flexible, and able to cover large surface areas to uncover carbon nanomaterials.
Proteomics and Blood at a Crime Scene
Blood is an obvious and very important point of evidence at a crime scene, but what about proteomics? Proteomics is the process of analyzing an entire protein found in blood, bones and other biological specimens. This technology was developed because scientists and CSI investigators found a gap in the information DNA could provide. Proteomics can dig as deep as revealing what a person ate the day they died.
Fingerprinting with Carbon Dot Powders
In just about every crime scene show or movie, the CSIs are looking for fingerprints to reveal who was there when the offense was committed. However, fingerprints don’t always come out perfectly, especially when there’s high toxicity, low contrast or low sensitivity in the sample.
Fluorescent carbon dot powder was developed to help eliminate this frustration. It can be applied to fingerprints to make them glow like neon signs, making them easier to analyze on complex background surfaces.
In a single human cell, 23 chromosome pairs that tell the entire story of the body from eye color to height, face shape to skin color. A DNA gene phenotype allows CSIs to decode the information found in the DNA specimen for up to 70% accuracy by running the information through a specified computer.
Geo-Locating with Stable Isotopes of Water
If you’ve ever wanted to join the armed forces, the police force or any other armed position in the U.S., you know that even the most well-qualified person is required to pass a hair follicle test. The hair can reveal a lot about a person from the substances they may be addicted to, to where they grew up.
CSI professionals have developed the technology to use this information for evidence analysis by looking into stable isotopes of water. Every body of water around the world has its own isotope ratio. And, your body needs water to function properly, so if you drink local tap water, your hair could reveal where exactly you got the water from.
Palynology is the study of spores, pollen grains and more. Forensic palynology is a subdiscipline of this type of science that proves or disproves the relationship between people, places and things in a criminal investigation. Using this information to understand pollen found at a crime scene isn’t new, but the latest advancements have moved the needle.
With the use of DNA metabarcoding, or the practice of putting a biosample for taxonomic identification through a computer-generated program, researchers can cut the time it takes to identify a pollen sample in half.
Closing the Gap on Criminals
If you’re considering a career in CSI, the future of the industry is becoming more technical and detailed, and now’s the time to jump in. You could be at the edge of new technological advancement, test new equipment or find the solution to a case that has long gone cold.
While the industry continues to grow, criminals will find it harder to leave a scene unscathed. You can join the force by starting on your Crime Scene Investigation professional certificate today.