Forensic vehicle identification from paint samples

Forensic laboratories are frequently asked to verify vehicle types or to corroborate eye-witness testimonies. With a sample of the automobile paint and the MiniFlex benchtop X-ray diffractometer, this becomes an achievable assignment! Automobile manufacturer use slightly different paint components and pigments for every model of their vehicles. Every year, the paint formulas change. Using X-ray diffraction, the paint and pigment compositions can be to identified. The individual compounds can then be matched to a private manufacturer database and, the exact make, model and year of the vehicle can be verified.


Figure 1 is an automobile door panel. The entire panel section was inserted into the MiniFlex diffractometer and measured as is—no paint was removed! This type of nondestructive testing is critical for evidence preservation. Figure 2 displays the results from the individual pigment compounds. The phases are identified by color coordinated line markers. The next step in the verification would be to match the compounds to the manufacturers database.


The fifth generation MiniFlex is a general purpose X-ray diffractometer that can perform qualitative and quantitative analysis of polycrystalline materials. The MiniFlex is available in two variations. Operating at 600 watts (X-ray tube), the MiniFlex 600 is twice as powerful as other benchtop models, enabling faster analysis and improved overall throughput. Running at 300 watts (X-ray tube), the new MiniFlex 300 does not require an external heat exchanger. Each model is engineered to maximize flexibility in a benchtop package. Read more...

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