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Forensic scientists are responsible for gathering and analyzing information at crime scenes. Through the use of advanced equipment and scientific knowledge, they take minute pieces of information and use them to prove a suspect's innocence or guilt. Forensic scientists require the aid of several pieces of equipment in order to perform their duties.
When a forensic scientist is called to a crime scene, part of his job is to find evidence that is not readily visible to the naked eye. This is done in a number of ways, including exposing parts of the crime scene to different types of light sources. When exposed to infrared or ultraviolet light, certain types of evidence, such as specific types of fibers or fluids, become visible. This helps scientists find evidence that regular investigators would not notice.
High powered magnification is a very important tool in a forensic lab. Much of the evidence collected at crime scenes is minuscule in nature. By using a variety of high powered microscopes, scientists are able to enlarge the image of this tiny evidence to the point where it can be identified. Magnified images may be compared against computer databases to identify tiny pieces of fibers or other material.
In large forensic labs, scientists use special equipment designed to analyze specific pieces of evidence. Smaller labs may need to send samples away to larger labs for this type of testing, as not all facilities are equipped with the right type of equipment. Chromotagraphs are used to analyze different types of evidence, including fibrous evidence. Chemicals that are unidentified are run through a spectrograph to determine their base chemical composition.
Fingerprints are one of the primary types of evidence used in criminal cases. The unique nature of fingerprints makes them the next best thing to DNA samples for tying a person to a particular location. Forensic scientists use equipment in the field such as specialized powders, brushes, cameras and tape to capture fingerprints. They also have computers in the lab that are used to analyze fingerprints and compare the gathered prints to a suspect's prints or to existing databases.