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Improved visualization of decomposing tattoos using optical coherence tomography
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Paper Abstract

Tattoos can be used in forensic human identification as a secondary means of identification (other means being, but not limited to, personal descriptions and artefacts) allowing the identification procedure to be strengthened in this way. Despite this, the decomposition of tattoos is a topic not extensively studied in taphonomic research (study of how organisms decay). In this communication, we assess optical coherence tomography (OCT) as a method to reliably identify tattoos before and after decomposition, by imaging tattooed porcine samples. OCT was able to penetrate up to 3mm below the surface and visualize parts of tattoos after 16 days of decomposition, which were no longer visible and recognizable using conventional photography-based methods. We believe this imaging modality has the potential to increase the reliability of tattoos in forensic human identification.

Paper Details

Date Published: 19 July 2019
PDF: 3 pages
Proc. SPIE 11078, Optical Coherence Imaging Techniques and Imaging in Scattering Media III, 110781S (19 July 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2526757
Show Author Affiliations
Manuel J. Marques, Univ. of Kent (United Kingdom)
Jasmine Pomeroy, Univ. of Kent (United Kingdom)
Robert Green, Univ. of Kent (United Kingdom)
Chris Deter, Univ. of Kent (United Kingdom)
Adrian Bradu, Univ. of Kent (United Kingdom)
Adrian Podoleanu, Univ. of Kent (United Kingdom)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 11078:
Optical Coherence Imaging Techniques and Imaging in Scattering Media III
Maciej Wojtkowski; Stephen A. Boppart; Wang-Yuhl Oh, Editor(s)

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