Spatial Variations of Sulfur and Absorbed Copper Ions in Human Hair by X-Ray Line Scanning


The x-ray line scanning technique in the scanning electron microscope has the inherent ability to produce useful parameters of comparative hair identification. Since sulfur is the major endogeneous, inorganic element of hair keratin and this element is a stable (i.e. unwashable) constituent of hair cuticles, the line scanning distribution of sulfur in segments of hair has the potential to serve as a reference for comparative assessment of the modes of distribution of other minor elements of hair. A secondary electron image of the sample area is superimposed over the elemental line scans. The method has been tested with the use of hairs containing absorbed cupric ions from a soaking solution. A seemingly important parameter of hair identification is offered by a sudden, characteristic rise in the uptake of sulfur within endodermal portion of the root of hair, which is followed by a gradual increase in the intensity of sulfur along the length of hair shaft. The rate of incorporation of sulfur measured at the root of hair (“sulfur index”) varies remarkably from one individual to another. Conventional microscopy test for hair comparison can be significantly aided with the uses of these elemental parameters examined in the SEM-EDX.


Human Hair Line Scan Scalp Hair Hair Shaft Inorganic Element 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Basu
    • 1
  1. 1.New York State Police Crime LaboratoryAlbanyUSA

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