Glass database

The Netherlands Forensic Institute and the police started building up a glass database in 2014. By now it contains over 150 samples of glass from a large number cases. In several cases, this glass database has linked suspects to several crimes.

Offenders of robberies of jewelry shops, smash-and-grab raids or ARM gas attacks may have splinters of glass on their clothes or in the soles of their shoes.  These splinters of glass can remain in place for months and are hardly visible with the naked eye, if at all.

These splinters can be of great value. The composition of each piece of glass is unique because of minuscule contaminants in the raw materials for making glass. By comparing the unique composition of splinters of glass found on a suspect to glass from the database, it is possible to check whether that glass originates from a crime committed earlier.

The glass analysts of the NFI measure the concentration of twenty elements in each piece of glass. This produces a kind of chemical fingerprint of the material.

These contaminants differ by piece of glass. But these distinctive characteristics can also differ within the production process.  The glass analysts of the NFI measure the concentration of twenty elements in each piece of glass. This produces a kind of chemical fingerprint of the material.