Unraveling Polyester Fibers with Advanced X-Ray Techniques


Researchers at Kochi University and RIKEN have unveiled a new method for distinguishing individual polyester fibers in forensic investigations. Published in Spectrochimica Acta Part B: Atomic Spectroscopy, their advanced X-ray analysis refreshes how we unravel the composition of these fibers.

Recently, Yoshinori Nishiwaki and others examined a novel method that can distinguish polyester fibers in forensic investigations. Their findings, published in Spectrochimica Acta Part B: Atomic Spectroscopy, show how the researchers employed advanced X-ray analysis techniques that helped reveal the composition of polyester fibers.

Extreme macro of polyester stable fiber on blue background | Image Credit: © Taigi - stock.adobe.com

Extreme macro of polyester stable fiber on blue background | Image Credit: © Taigi - stock.adobe.com

In particular, their study is significant because distinguishing individual fibers is essential in forensic analysis. As a result, many conventional methods often do not accomplish the needed objective of the analyst. The researchers sought to find a new method that could aid in forensic analysis, introducing a comprehensive approach that used several X-ray techniques, including semi-microbeam X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spot analysis, nanobeam XRF imaging, and X-ray absorption fine structure analysis (XAFS) using synchrotron radiation (1).

The study focused on uncovering metal compounds within polyester fibers, originating from polymerization and transesterification catalysts alongside matting agents (1). The team analyzed specimens from both commercial polyester products and forensic collections. They encountered success with using semi-microbeam XRF spot analysis, as this technique was able to detect trace metallic elements, such as titanium, manganese, cobalt, germanium, and antimony (1). Surprisingly, certain X-ray intensity ratios exhibited lower reproducibility, particularly those linked to cobalt (1).

The investigation also used nanobeam XRF imaging to visualize the uneven distribution of metallic elements within polyester fibers. These visual markers demonstrated elemental heterogeneity, unraveling the root cause behind the inconsistent X-ray intensity ratios observed in the spot analysis (1).

However, the real breakthrough emerged from XAFS analysis, pinpointing three distinct types of titanium compounds and two varieties of cobalt compounds utilized in various polyester applications. Notably, these chemical states served as crucial indices for discriminating single polyester fibers (1).

Semi-microbeam XRF spot analysis unveiled trace elements, nanobeam imaging revealed distribution patterns, and XAFS pinpointed specific compounds, collectively enhancing the ability for analysts to discern polyester fibers. Nishiwaki and others demonstrated that by using X-ray analysis, discovering the composition of synthetic materials such as polyester, can be realized. This study, therefore, advances forensic analysis, because it offers forensic analysts a new, effective strategy to employ while conducting forensic investigations.

This article was written with the help of artificial intelligence and has been edited to ensure accuracy and clarity. You can read more about our policy for using AI here.


(1) Komatsu, H.; Nakanishi, T.; Seto, Y.; Nishiwaki, Y. Characterization of Metal Components in White-Based Polyester Single Fibers by X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry and X-Ray Absorption Fine Structure Analysis Utilizing Synchrotron Radiation for Forensic Discrimination. Spectrochim. Acta Part B At. Spectrosc. 2023, 209, 106785. DOI: 10.1016/j.sab.2023.106785

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