Raman Microspectroscopic Mapping: A Tool for Identification of Fused Materials in Fire Debris

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Examination of fire debris can provide information about the types of materials which were present at the time of the fire to give insights for fire scene reconstruction and understanding compartment fire dynamics. This paper demonstrates the ability of Raman spectroscopy for material identification postfire in complex situations, such as the production of fused masses during fire dropdown. A validated Raman spectral library is combined with Raman mapping in three fire case studies, to determine the individual materials in the fused masses formed. The case studies accessed material combinations of several common polymers. Raman mapping was carried out on a 10 μm × 10 μm square of the masses. Material identification using this technique ranged from a high of 85% match to a low of 40% match. This work demonstrated that complex masses found in the fire debris can be resolved into the individual material components for identification and spatial distribution.

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