Could inspecting a crime scene for even the most minuscule blood stains one day be as simple as taking a picture? It will if some research now being conducted at the University of South Carolina in Columbia pans out. A team there led by Stephen Morgan and Michael Myrick have developed a so-called "blood camera" that uses a combination of infrared light and a transparent layer of the protein albumin -- the latter of which acts as a filter and is able to highlight blood stains by filtering out wavelengths that aren't characteristic of blood proteins (or so we're told). That's as opposed to current methods for detecting blood at a crime scene, which rely on the chemical luminol to make the stains appear in the dark. As New Scientist notes, however, that method can also dilute blood samples and make DNA difficult to recover, and create false positives. The researchers don't seem to be stopping at blood, though -- they say the camera could also be easily adapted to detect trace amounts of other materials that aren't visible to the naked eye, like drugs or explosives.

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Researchers develop 'blood camera' to spot crime scene stains in a flash