Forensics and Environment

In forensic science, Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) has been used for specific, targeted applications. These include the reconstruction of serial numbers (for example on firearms) on the basis of sub-surface crystalline deformation; in addition, EBSD has been shown to have benefits in fire investigations, with the technique used to characterise molten marks (metal globules that have melted due to, for example, contact with high intensity fires).

Although most environmental microanalytical techniques focus on the use of automated energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS), EBSD can play a vital role especially for the identification of hazardous particles, such as asbestos fibres. In addition, with the focus on climate change, EBSD is now being used to better understand the flow processes in glacial ice.

Typical applications in these segments include:

Images showing how an EBSD pattern quality map can reveal serial numbers that have been removed

Serial number reconstruction using EBSD. Left – secondary electron image of the sample surface, showing only part of the “O”. Right – EBSD pattern quality image, showing the clear lettering due to subsurface crystalline deformation

Application Notes

Forensic Reconstruction of Removed Serial Numbers with EBSD

Here, we demonstrate the ability of EBSD to detect otherwise invisible plastic deformation introduced to the sample by the engraving process – allowing the reconstruction of a polished away serial number.


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