The Forensic Analysis of Glass Evidence: Past, Present and Future

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Subject: LCSH

Crime scene searches, Glass--Fracture


Forensic Science and Technology


Book description: Concentrating on the natural science aspects of forensics, top international authors from renowned universities, institutes, and laboratories impart the latest information from the field. In doing so they provide the background needed to understand the state of the art in forensic science with a focus on biological, chemical, biochemical, and physical methods. The broad subject coverage includes spectroscopic analysis techniques in various wavelength regimes, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, electrochemical detection approaches, and imaging techniques, as well as advanced biochemical, DNA-based identification methods. The result is a unique collection of hard-to-get data that is otherwise only found scattered throughout the literature.

Chapter summary: Glass is a ubiquitous material, and as a result it is frequently recovered as transfer evidence when glass objects are broken during the commission of a crime. There are three possible goals of forensic glass examination: classification, discrimination, and individualization. The physical matching of two or more broken glass fragments is the only forensic glass analytical method that is considered to establish an individualization of glass evidence, as it enables an association of known and questioned glass fragments to the exclusion of all other sources. In the absence of a physical match, the forensic analysis of glass consists of comparisons and measurements of various physical properties, optical properties, and/or chemical composition. The most commonly used techniques for elemental analysis are scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDX), X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF), inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrophotometry (ICP-OES), and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS).


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Publisher Citation

Brooke Weinger Kammrath, Andrew C. Koutrakos, Meghenn E. McMahon, John A. Reffner. The Forensic Analysis of Glass Evidence: Past, Present and Future. Ch. 14 pp. 299-336. In Evgeny Katz, Jan Halámek. Forensic Science: A Multidisciplinary Approach. Wiley VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, 2016.