For the forensic analysis of multi-layered paint chips of hit-and-run cars, detailed compositional analysis, including minor/trace chemical components in the multi-layered paint chips, is crucial for the potential credentials of the run-away car as the number of layers, painting process, and used paints are quite specific to the types of cars, color of cars, and their surface protection depending on the car manufacturer and the year of manufacture, and yet overall characteristics of some paints used by car manufacturers might be quite similar. In the present study, attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) imaging, Raman microspectrometry (RMS), and scanning electron microscopy/energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometric (SEM/EDX) techniques were performed in combination for the detailed characterization of three car paint chip samples, which provided complementary and comprehensive information on the multi-layered paint chips. That is, optical microscopy, SEM, and ATR-FTIR imaging techniques provided information on the number of layers, physical heterogeneity of the layers, and layer thicknesses; EDX on the elemental chemical profiles and compositions; ATR-FTIR imaging on the molecular species of polymer resins, such as alkyd, alkyd-melamine, acrylic, epoxy, and butadiene resins, and some inorganics; and RMS on the molecular species of inorganic pigments (TiO2
, ZnO, Fe3
), mineral fillers (kaolinite, talc, pyrophyllite), and inorganic fillers (BaSO4
). This study demonstrates that the new multi-modal approach has powerful potential to elucidate chemical and physical characteristics of multi-layered car paint chips, which could be useful for determining the potential credentials of run-away cars.
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