In 1998, the National Research Council issued a report “Black and Smokeless Powders: Technologies for Finding Bombs and the Bomb Makers”.  The NRC report recommended that a comprehensive national powder database be developed, containing information about the physical characteristics and chemical composition of commercially available black and smokeless powders. An agency-independent effort to develop a smokeless powders database did not emerge until 2009, when the National Center for Forensic Science (NCFS) in collaboration with the Scientific Working Group for Fire and Explosions (SWGFEX) began work on an internet-accessible database of analytical information on smokeless powders (http://www.ilrc.ucf.edu/powders/). The database opened in early 2011 with 100 entries of legacy powders, provided by Mr. Ronald Kelly (FBI-retired). Under this research grant: (1) records for an additional 600 powders were entered into the database, (2) 100 new powders were analyzed and their records entered into the database, (3) reference collections of the 100 smokeless powders were provided, free of charge, to 50 forensic laboratories that conduct smokeless powder exams and, (4) the data corresponding to the legacy and new records were utilized in research to establish evidentiary and investigative value associated with matching records returned from a search of the Smokeless Powders Database.
The purpose of this basic-science research project was to expand on successfully completed proof-of-concept experiments by, first, determining the scientific basis of and the application of columnar thin films (CTFs) to capture friction ridge, detail found in latent fingerprints on nonporous forensically relevant textured substrates and then to compare CTF development of fingerprints with commonly employed fingerprint development techniques used for that purpose.