Oncological Sciences Center

Purdue Technology on CSI: Miami

February 9, 2009

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Forensic technology developed at Purdue, makes its way to the small screen.   Professor Graham Cooks and his research team developed the desorption electrospray ionization, or "DESI". It analyzes a fingerprint's chemical signature.

"This is a method of looking at chemicals on surfaces. If you put your finger on a surface you transfer chemicals to that surfaces. We record a spectrum which tells us what compounds are present. And we take that data and pull out particular compounds," Cooks said.

All the hard work will be featured on the hit CBS series, "CSI: Miami" on Monday, November 24. 

A story about the technology was featured on CNN and it caught the eye of CSI producers. Producers then contacted Prosolia Incorporated, which owns the DESI techonology. Prosolia's CEO, Peter Kissinger, said he was surprised by how quickly it all happened.

"The producer of the show said, 'Wow, this is about fingerprints and we're about CSI, let's put something together and we can do a show and feature this technology'--and that's how it came up. I think by September they contacted us and were interested if this could work out," Kissinger said.

The show will use equipment, borrowed from Prosolia Inc., in the episode. Neither Cooks nor Kissingner have seen the script. Cooks has been told the crime scenario in the episode deals with a suspect who touches a specialized lubricant.

"Somebody handles that lubricant and is identified on the basis of, well, there's his fingerprint, that's ok the person is supposed to be in the vicinity, but they are not supposed to be handling that lubricant," Cook said.

While the details of the episode are being kept under wraps, there is at least one shout-out to the Boilermakers.

"All I know about the script is there is character called Max Purdue," Cooks said.

Cooks and Kissinger credit the "CSI" series with the increased popularity of forensic science.

"There are people in my research group who went into chemistry research because of the forensics and that all really started with CSI. So no question, they've done a lot of good in that sense," Cooks said.

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