Replacing Synperonic® N in the Physical Developer fingermark visualisation process: reformulation

Amelia Thomas-Wilson, Zi Ying Guo, Robert Luck, Laura J. Hussey, Megan Harmsworth, Jodie L. Coulston, A. Robert Hillman, Vaughn G. Sears

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The Physical Developer solution currently recommended for use in the United Kingdom for fingermark visualisation uses two surfactants: n-dodecylamine acetate (nDDAA) and Synperonic® N. Synperonic® N is covered by the EU directive 82/242/EEC, which sought to phase out chemicals with degradation products more harmful than their precursor. This study explores the replacement of Synperonic® N with alternative detergents and examines their ability to produce clear, stable solutions that are effective at developing fingermarks. The critical properties of the detergents were investigated, such as the critical micelle concentration and the hydrophilic-lipophilic balance, and planted mark comparisons were performed on promising formulations. Tween® 20 was deemed unsuitable due to the production of cloudy solutions and the requirement to age the formulation to improve effectiveness. Brij® C10 produced clear formulations; however, these were too stable causing unacceptably long exhibit processing times, and an additional preparation stage was necessary. Brij® L23, Brij® S10, Igepal® CO-630, Polyoxyethylene (10) tridecyl ether and Tergitol™ 15-S-9 also proved to be unsuccessful alternatives. Decaethylene glycol monododecyl ether (DGME) was found to be a suitable alternative to Synperonic® N and depletion series experiments suggested that a range of DGME and nDDAA detergent quantities were effective at developing marks. The processing time using DGME was similar to Synperonic® N and the most favourable ratio of reagents is proposed in this paper as a reformulated Physical Developer solution.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110786
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalForensic Science International
Early online date10 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • Physical Developer (PD)
  • Fingermark
  • Synperonic N
  • Tween 20
  • Decaethylene glycol monododecyl ether (DGME)


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