In situ detection and identification of hair dyes using surface-enhanced raman spectroscopy (SERS)

Dmitry Kurouski, Richard P. Van Duyne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Hair is one of the most common types of physical evidence found at a crime scene. Forensic examination may suggest a connection between a suspect and a crime scene or victim, or it may demonstrate an absence of such associations. Therefore, forensic analysis of hair evidence is invaluable to criminal investigations. Current hair forensic examinations are primarily based on a subjective microscopic comparison of hair found at the crime scene with a sample of suspects hair. Since this is often inconclusive, the development of alternative and more-accurate hair analysis techniques is critical. In this study, we utilized surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to demonstrate that artificial dyes can be directly detected on hair. This spectroscopic technique is capable of a confirmatory identification of analytes with single molecule resolution, requires minimal sample, and has the advantage of fluorescence quenching. Our study reveals that SERS can (1) identify whether hair was artificially dyed or not, (2) determine if a permanent or semipermanent colorants were used, and (3) distinguish the commercial brands that are utilized to dye hair. Such analysis is rapid, minimally destructive, and can be performed directly at the crime scene. This study provides a novel perspective of forensic investigations of hair evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2901-2906
Number of pages6
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 3 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry

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