Some day in the near future criminals might be convicted because they touched their victim. No joke. A new study released late last year revealed a breakthrough use for a current technology that has major potential to put bad guys in jail. The technology is called vacuum metal deposition or VMD for short, and it has already been used to put some high profile criminals behind bars (see Richard Rogers "Last Call Killer"). However the new use for the technology is to find fingerprints on clothing.
VMD is performed in a two stage process. The first stage involves vaporizing a small amount of gold onto a surface under high vacuum. The gold penetrates into the surface by a small amount. The next step is to vaporize a more significant amount of zinc and apply to the surface under high vacuum. What remains is a visible print where the zinc deposits everywhere on the surface except on the ridges themselves (effectively creating a fingerprint negative).