Category Archives: Technology

Changes in the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE)

As you may have heard, the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) will be handing over the operation of the FTCoE system to Research Triangle Institute (RTI) at the end of this calendar year. It has been a long journey since NFSTC developed and launched the Center in 2007. During that time, it has been an honor for our team to serve communities large and small, provide forensic technical support, strengthen our crime laboratory system, evaluate the most innovative technology and provide training opportunities and workshops on a wide variety of topics. The variety of the questions we fielded and the innovativeness of the criminal justice professionals we have served across the country has made this time of service a fantastic and rewarding experience.

Thank you for your continued dedication to the truth, justice and the safety of our communities. NFSTC continues to serve the criminal justice community with a wide variety of forensic training, service and forensic expertise and consulting. We look forward to working with you.

To keep up with the latest in NFSTC services and opportunities, register to review the news via our RSS feed at, or join us at

Free Drug and Explosive Detection Workshop Available Online

Presentations and videos from last month’s Field Detection of Drugs and Explosive Odor Signatures Using Planar Solid Phase Microextraction Ion Mobility Spectrometry (PSPME-IMS) Technology Transition Workshop are now available online free at

The three-day PSPME-IMS workshop provided law enforcement professionals with an introduction to PSPME-IMS as a sampling and detection strategy for illicit drugs and explosives. Topics covered included:

  • applications of the PSPME-IMS technology, as well as sampling and detection protocols
  • an overview of the PSPME sampling and pre-concentration device, including its maintenance
  • use of ion mobility and differential ion mobility spectrometers (benchtop explosives trace detectors (ETD)), coupled with the PSPME device to allow for detection and presumptive identification of threat agents relevant to first responders
  • basic hands-on instruction on IMS analysis and use of instrument software
  • hands-on detection, analysis and interpretation of drug and explosive odor signatures
  • sampling of a vehicle for suspected contraband
  • future directions of PSPME-IMS technology
Testing the PSPME collection device developed at Florida International University. The material provides for a new method of targeting volatiles associated with the presence of drugs and explosives using the existing infrastructure of explosives detectors.

For more information on the PSPME-IMS workshop, visit the project page at For more information on NFSTC’s technology evaluation and transition services, visit the Forensic Technology page at

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), in conjunction with the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC), sponsored this event under a cooperative agreement to help facilitate the transition of novel technologies into practice by operational forensic facilities.

Crime scenes, field forensics, tools and training

Come see us at the IACP Conference in Chicago!

Stop by the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) booth (#2131) at the IACP exhibit hall:

  • Check out crime scene scenario and virtual reality crime scene training
  • Get the latest on digital evidence training
  • Learn about the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (
  • Get an inside look at body armor
  • Register to win an iPad from NFSTC!

NFSTC and colleagues from around the forensic science community look forward to sharing the latest ways to help your agency gain expertise and stretch your training dollars during these tight budget times. We’ll see you in Chicago!

Twitter: @nfstc

GSA Contract Holder: GS-02F-0081U

What’s the smartest DNA decontamination solution? New study puts them to the test.

The findings of a comparison study conducted at NFSTC’s laboratory have just been released. The DNA decontamination study compares the industry mainstay, 10% bleach solution, to two specialized decontaminants, STERIPLEX SD and Pure Blu. The findings have been compiled into a technology evaluation report. (Note: This report was revised on Oct. 13 to correct information sent from one of the manufacturers; if you downloaded the earlier version, please download this updated report.)

It is imperative for laboratories to decontaminate equipment and surfaces to avoid cross-contamination when working with DNA. Typically laboratories use 10% bleach solution to clean and decontaminate, but bleach comes with a host of drawbacks: It’s caustic and corrosive, and it loses effectiveness after 24 hours, so fresh batches have to be mixed every day. The specialized alternatives last longer, but how well do they decontaminate? Are they safer? And are they worth the extra money?

To download other reports, visit NFSTC’s Technology Evaluations main page, or jump directly to the Biology & DNA, Chemistry and Crime Scene Investigation pages.

Web-based Workshop Registration: Rapid Biological Screening & Analysis

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), through the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC), is offering a Technology Transition Workshop on Rapid Biological Screening & Analysis Methodologies for Improving Throughput. This free workshop, which will be held daily from 1-3:15 PM (Eastern) on October 24-26, 2011, will be available via Internet WebEx-based broadcast sessions on a secure website.

This workshop format will enable attendees to participate from their home laboratory. All selected attendees will be required to review introductory microfluidic lectures and to read selected journal articles prior to the first WebEx installment of this workshop on October 24, 2011. Each day of the workshop, a live question-and-answer period with the session’s instructor or instructors will be held in real time immediately following broadcast of the pre-recorded lecture(s)/instrument demonstration.

To Apply:

Register online at
Invitation Code (case sensitive):
Application deadline:  Friday, September 2, 2011
Cost:  This workshop is offered by NFSTC, and there is no cost to local and state participants or their agencies.
Eligible Participants: This workshop is open to forensic biologists affiliated with state or locally funded crime laboratories.

Applicants will be notified regarding selection status by Friday, September 16, 2011.

The instructors for this workshop will be:

  • Dr. Christopher T. Culbertson (Kansas State University)
  • Dr. Eugene Tan (NetBio)
  • Dr. Jack Ballantyne (University of Central Florida)
  • Mr. Micah Halpern (GenSol Diagnostics)
  • Dr. Eric Buel (formerly from the State of Vermont Forensic Laboratory).

The purpose of this workshop is to provide forensic biology professionals with information regarding various NIJ-funded research projects that have the capability to increase the throughput of biological samples in one of two ways: through a screening process that serves to enable selection of critical samples requiring a more complete analysis either at the scene or in the laboratory, or via a fully integrated rapid DNA analysis platform system.

Lectures include:

  • Microfluidics: Introduction and Overview
  • Integrated Microfluidic Devices for Forensic Analysis
  • The Field-deployable Accelerated Nuclear DNA Equipment (ANDE) Program: Rapid, Fully-integrated Human Forensic Identification (an instrument demonstration will also be included)
  • Time Since Deposition (TSD) of Dried Bloodstains Using UV-VIS Spectrometric Analysis of Hemoglobin
  • ID of Fetal Blood Using Developmentally Regulated Gamma Hemoglobin mRNA Isoforms
  • Rapid Melt-Based STR Prescreening of Forensic Samples at the Crime Scene
  • A Real-Time Multiplex SNP Melting Assay to Discriminate Individuals

For more information, please refer to the workshop curriculum:

  Rapid Biological Screening and Analysys Methodologies TTW curriculum

If you have any questions or difficulty registering online, contact Jennie Travers at