Forensic Science students perform a fiber analysis

Brian Pleitez

Crimson Chronicle Reporter

Photo Credit: Yahir Martinez

Forensic science students have been taking a look at how the different types of fibers in our clothes look under the microscope and burning them to see how they react under heat. This is all part of the bigger question which is how can fibers from a victim’s clothes make links to suspects? 

When dealing with crime scenes, clothing is a very important piece of evidence because its fibers can be on the clothing of other suspects. There were six types of fibers that the students tested: wool, rayon, silk, polyester, cotton, and an unknown fiber that they had to determine by themselves. 

“Most of the fibers we tried did not give a bad smell and burned fast,” said SAS senior Omar Navar. “ It was not until we tried polyester when it gave off that really bad plastic burnt smell.”

The first thing they used were microscopes to see how each one differed from another. They were asked to identify different patterns and textures from each individual strand. Afterward, they used a tweezer to hold the fiber on a candle flame to see how it reacted to the heat and the smell it gave off.

Synthetic fibers tend to burn pretty quickly and give an acrid and chemical smell. Natural fibers such as wool, cotton, and silk burn slowly and smell like burning paper.

 Knowing what kind of fiber a victim had can help forensic scientists examine the suspect’s clothing and try to find matching fibers. Analyzing this type of data allows crime investigators to have more hints as to who the suspect is. 

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