Variable Pressure Scanning Electron Microscope (VPSEM) imaging and analysis has been carried out on a range of spider silk samples to evaluate the forensic potential of both the methodology and materials. Initial concerns were whether such material was suitably robust to undergo such an examination and so the primary goal was to identify optimum imaging and analysis conditions. The second goal was to establish if silks from different species could be classified and identified by this approach. Next the nature of the trapped particulates on the spider silk has been investigated to determine the location-sensitivity of such samples. This aspect has included time-based experiments to identify the rate of particle loss from spider silk traps. The results have been very encouraging. The spider silk samples are robust under the identified imaging and analysis materials. The silks from a single species are distinguishable with a high level of confidence in the samples examined. The spider silks trap a range of particulates of both biological and physical origins, many of which are clearly identifiable through imaging and x-ray analysis. The time and loading experiments show that the silks react to some materials and also that remnant particle size decreases with time, ie the larger particles are lost more rapidly. The results suggest that imaging and analysis of spider silk can provide considerable forensic information.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2011|