The so-called "UV fingerprint" brings unexpected possibilities not only to forensic scientists

26. 7. 2021
Scientists from our Department can recognize, at first glance, the same samples of food or drugs according to the fluorescence record. Thanks to this, they will know whether, for example, the technological process has not changed during the production of juice, they will reveal the adulteration of wine or the origin of drugs. The results of their research may therefore also help criminalists in the future. This new procedure has a wide application, says the Head of the Laboratory of Bioanalysis and Imaging Lukáš Nejdl.

The technology is based on a simple principle called spectral characteristics of the sample. “We illuminate the sample with UV radiation and thus provoke some interesting photochemical reactions, which are specific to the given sample, and after a few minutes, it is possible to say from the spectral characteristics what it originated from. Whether it’s a wine variety or a type of juice,” describes Nejdl. Virtually any liquid sample can be illuminated. Thus, it may be a biological sample, pesticide, food, clinical sample such as urine, serum, plasma, blood, or medicine, including drugs.

“We test individual samples and try to find application in practice. We are also looking for partners in the commercial and public spheres,” said Nejdl. His team is so far furthest in testing on wines, specifically analyzing white varieties. Just a drop of commonly sold white wine and “UV-fingerprint” identify the wine by comparison with the database. According to Mojmír Baroň, head of the Department of Viticulture and Enology, Faculty of Horticulture MENDELU, the new method can significantly help especially in the field of wine authentication, identification, and fingerprinting. “The industry faces significant threats in the form of falsification of well-known wine brands. This method could easily and cheaply determine whether it is a declared wine or not. So far, no simple and reliable method has been used. At the same time, the method can be used for production quality control in companies. Samples of quality products can be eliminated by sampling the output products. The main advantage is simplicity, speed, and price,” said Baroň.

Researchers are also starting cooperation with the Police Presidium, whose new department is trying to find new analytical procedures in the work of forensic scientists, which they could use for daily practice. “The advantage is that the device that criminal investigators need can be assembled in a small case. So you can go out into the field with him and go around festivals and discos, for example. If forensic scientists find banned substances (drugs) there, they can pair (identify) them with a specific dealer,” said Nejdl. The method is also suitable for detecting counterfeit drugs or profiling addictive substances to find out who prepared the drug. He mentioned the dactyloscopy traces that forensic scientists have been providing for centuries, but now they could do so more modernly with a digital scanner and speed up the whole system. “This method may have a very interesting future in forensic practice groups of drugs directly in the field. An interesting idea may be its use in the biological sector,” said Radim Pernický from the Department for Science, Research and Innovation of the Prague Police Presidium.

As with penicillin, the original idea of ​​MENDELU scientists was a coincidence. When they needed orange juice for their experiments, they noticed that samples of this drink always behaved differently – depending on what brand of juice they had just brought to the laboratory. What seemed like a complication of the original experiment raised the unexpected question: what if someone needed to uncover differences in seemingly identical substances? Scientists are now expanding their efforts to include material chemistry, specifically the UV synthesis of some interesting nanomaterials. “The light-induced reactions we observe in the laboratory or the stratosphere could be responsible for how life came into being and how nanoparticles may have been involved in shaping or maintaining primary metabolism,” Nejdl added.

Contact for more information: Ing. Lukáš Nejdl, Ph.D., Head of the Laboratory of Bioanalysis and Imaging of the Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry AF MENDELU,, +420 601 323 766

Head of the Laboratory of Bioanalysis and Imaging


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