Accelerator-based analytical techniques for elemental and molecular analysis in forensic science have a great potential in key areas as crime investigations, food, drug and cultural heritage authentication. Although, these analytical techniques are readily available and routinely applied in research, there is still a considerable gap when it comes to forensics applications.

The workshop will provide an advanced training and information exchange platform both for accelerator scientists and forensic end-users. Review of analytical capabilities of accelerator-based techniques including state-of-the-art and technical challenges will be followed by providing guidelines and case studies on how to extend the applicability of accelerator-based techniques to forensics science. A poster session is organized to present and discuss the participants’ research results. Visit of Sincrotrone Elettra and a Forensic Laboratory, will provide hands-on experience. The workshop is open both for young and experienced scientists, forensic experts and policy makers.

  • Introduction to forensic science, key aspects;
  • Current challenges and unresolved issues in forensic science where nuclear technology can have a key role;
  • Use of technology to fight crime and recent trends of the counterfeiting phenomenon;
  • Recent advances of accelerator-based (AMS, IBA and SR) analytical techniques relevant to forensics applications;
  • Emerging accelerator-based and complementary (e.g. SIMS, NAA, XRF etc.) techniques;
  • Analytical challenges in forensics applications e.g.: parallel elemental and molecular analysis and imaging, analysis of soft matter, multilayers, rough surfaces; high sensitivity and resolution, accuracy, damage, data interpretation etc.;
  • Case studies and success stories of nuclear technologies applied to forensic science.


Nuno P. Barradas, IAEA, Austria
Melanie Bailey, University of Surrey, England
Thomas Calligaro, C2RMF-AGLAE, France
Johnny Ferraz Dias, UFRGS, Brazil
Irka Hajdas, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Marco Musumeci, UNICRI, Switzerland
Franco Zanini, Sincrotrone Elettra, Trieste, Italy


A limited number of grants are available to support the attendance of selected participants, with priority given to participants from developing countries. There is no registration fee.

Deadline: 1 March 2019
Go to day
  • Monday, 20 May 2019
    • 08:30 - 19:00
      • 08:30 Administrative and Financial formalities 1h30'
        REGISTRATION: Upon arrival, Visitors not staying in the ICTP Guest Houses, are kindly requested to complete registration formalities at the Adriatico Guesthouse as follows: Office 3 (Lower level) from 8.30 till 10.00.
        TRAVEL UNIT (Only for those Visitors receiving daily living allowance/travel reimbursement, who have not provided their bank account data through the on-line portal)  
        Only after having completed registration formalities, please go to the Travel Unit, EF, Main Entrance, Room T17, ground floor, open two days:  Monday and Friday, 08.30 - 12.00  and 13.30 - 14.30
        Please bring with you: badge/identity card or passport/any travel tickets and boarding passes, if reimbursement due.
      • 10:00 Welcome and opening of the Workshop 1h0'
        Speakers: Aliz Simon (IAEA, Austria), Sandro Scandolo (ICTP, Italy), Giuseppina Maddaluno (UNICRI, Italy), Francesco Romolo (University of Bergamo, Italy)
      • 11:00 Overview of the IAEA activities in support of accelerator-based analytical techniques 30'
        Speaker: Aliz Simon (IAEA, Austria)
      • 11:30 ICTP: a knowledge hub for physicists and mathematicians 25'
        Speaker: Sandro Scandolo (ICTP, Italy)
      • 11:55 Group photo 5'
      • 12:00 Montoring and fighting crime 1h0'
        1) Very short presentation on who we are and what we do at UNICRI in the area of crime and justice and why we are interested in the IAEA activities (future outreach)
        2) Putting into context: organized crime interest in low priority enforcement areas and differentiation of the criminal portfolio: the case of counterfeiting and food fraud
        3) Discussing concrete areas where criminal activities and breaches of the supply chain can mix: infiltrations into the legal economy and their possible impact for the security of the supply chain + emerging trends for the infiltration into the supply chain + importance of monitoring criminal activities and connections between them
        4) Potential of what the IAEA is doing and what UNICRI is doing with SIRIO to improve the monitoring and response with concrete examples
        Speaker: Marco Musumeci (UNICRI, Switzerland)
      • 13:00 Lunch break 1h0'
      • 14:00 The global threat of organized crime 1h0'
        Transnational criminal markets are present around the world, dealing with drugs, arms, trafficked people, toxic waste, stolen natural resources or protected animals' parts. 
        Many of the benefits of globalization such as easier and faster communication, movement of finances and international travel, have also created opportunities for transnational organized criminal groups to flourish, diversify and expand their activities. 
        Data on the illicit trafficking will be illustrated, considering the opportunity to support intelligence activities and criminal investigations thanks to scientific information.
        Speaker: Francesco Romolo (University of Bergamo, Italy)
      • 15:00 Introduction to forensic science 1h0'
        The presentation will explain “what is forensic science” beginning with an historical introduction. The role of forensic scientists in criminal investigation will be illustrated, beginning with the principle of Locard. A discussion about the meaning of “identification”, “classification” and “individualization” will follow. Different types of scientific evidence will be explained, showing the casework analytical approach and the opportunities of nuclear techniques to provide added value in forensic science.
        Speaker: Francesco Romolo (University of Bergamo, Italy)
      • 16:00 Coffee break 30'
      • 16:30 Analytical techniques for forensics: strengths and limitations 45'
        - Requirements for forensic investigations
        - The current landscape of elemental imaging / mass spectrometry imaging / direct mass spectrometry techniques –to give the participants an overview of upcoming techniques and an appreciation for how nuclear techniques may fit within this landscape. 
        - E.g.  XRF, SEM-EDS, LA-ICP-MS, CyTOF, LIBS compared with PIXE ; Direct and imaging mass spectrometry methods – paper spray, DESI, MALDI, MeV-SIMS, LESA, Dart MS
        - This lecture should be particularly useful for researchers/practitioners who wish to broaden their knowledge of new analytical chemistry methods 
        Speaker: Melanie Bailey (University of Surrey, England)
      • 17:15 Detecting food fraud 45'
        Since the early days of forensics, scientific thinking has been an important tool for the elucidation of cases. Nowadays, science  is used by all forensic community on routine basis. This talk will tackle the main challenges of bringing science and forensics to detect  food fraud. The challanges will be discussed in terms of real-case studies. Finally, the potentialities of nuclear techniques applied to forensics will be discussed.
        Speaker: Johnny F. Dias (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil)
      • 18:00 Welcome reception 1h0'
        All participants of the Joint ICTP-IAEA Workshop are cordially invited to attend the Welcome reception.
  • Tuesday, 21 May 2019
    • 08:30 - 17:30
      • 08:30 Combining IBA and AMS-14C to evidence archaeological artefact forgery 1h0'
        Benefits and complementarity of accelator-based methods in heritage forensics. Organisation of Heritage forensics stakeholders and structures in France. Cold case from museums: investigation of a purported Precolumbian mosaic skull acquired by a French museum. The detailed forensic investigation of the constituting materials illustrated with live movies eventually demonstrates that it is a forgery.
        Speaker: Thomas Calligaro (C2RMF, France)
      • 09:30 Validation and quality in forensic science 1h0'
        The priority for any forensic science institution is to report reliable analytical data and meaningful forensic interpretation scientific evidence. Therefore, international agreement concerning validation and quality control requirements is needed. Several international guidelines provide a standard for fundamental validation parameters such as selectivity, matrix effects, method limits, calibration, accuracy, precision and stability. Suggestions for experimental set-up, statistical approaches and straightforward acceptance criteria for validation of forensic applications will be suggested, based on the international experience of forensic institutions.
        Speaker: Francesco Romolo (University of Bergamo, Italy)
      • 10:30 Coffee break 30'
      • 11:00 Gunshot residue analysis 1h0'
        - Introduction to firearms and GSR as evidence – how GSR forms part of the bigger picture
        - What is GSR and how does it form
        - How is it recovered?
        - What are the current methods and standards for detecting it?
        - What are the current problems / limitations ?
        - Research in this area that goes towards solving these problems ... and their limitations
        This lecture should be a useful review of challenges and opportunities for those interested in furthering forensic capability for gunshot residue evidence
        Speaker: Melanie Bailey (University of Surrey, England)
      • 12:00 The Application of Neutron Activation Analysis to Forensic Sciences 1h0'
        The talk starts with a short introduction of applications of research reactors. After this, the main part of the presentation focuses on outlining the forensic applications for which NAA is well suited. 
        The presentation will:
        - Provide contextual history of NAA in forensic sciences
        - Highlight the forensic applications for which NAA has most been used
        - Provide case studies of NAA in forensic sciences
        - Discuss the threats to NAA as a viable technique in forensic sciences
        - Indicate areas where NAA can currently contribute
        Speaker: Nuno P. Barradas (IAEA, Austria)
      • 13:00 Lunch break 1h0'
      • 14:00 Fingerprint analysis 1h0'
        - The chemistry of fingerprints and their evolution over time
        - Current techniques used for the recovery of fingermarks
        - Potential of fingermarks to be used for activity level information
        - Challenges and opportunities for increasing the scope of fingerprint evidence 
        Speaker: Melanie Bailey (University of Surrey, England)
      • 15:00 Case studies for detecting food fraud 1h0'
        Nowadays, food is a multi-billion dollar business employing millions of people. From small family bussines to large corporations, the goal is to provide cost-effective products. This talk will cover a couple of real-case studies of food fraud where ethics, reputation and money are at stake.
        Speaker: Johnny F. Dias (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil)
      • 16:00 Poster session 1h30'
        Speakers: Aliz Simon (IAEA), Melanie Bailey (University of Surrey, England), Nuno P. Barradas (IAEA), Thomas Calligaro (C2RMF, France), Johnny F. Dias (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil), Francesco Romolo (University of Bergamo, Italy)
  • Wednesday, 22 May 2019
    • 08:30 - 14:00
      • 08:30 Research reactors in forensics: case studies 1h0'
        The presentation will focus on actual forensic cases where research reactor techniques played an important role. 
        This will include the theft of an entire beach, murder cases, provenancing of precious objects, and the death of Napoleon Bonaparte.
        Speaker: Nuno P. Barradas (IAEA, Austria)
      • 09:30 AMS C-14 and detection of forgeries: potential and limitations 1h0'
        Short introduction to radiocarbon dating, 
        AMS technique and its development--essential to dating of art and other precious  objects; 
        The bomb peak and it's importance for forensic studies; 2 or 3 study cases will be included.
        Speaker: Irka Hajdas (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)
      • 10:30 Coffee break 30'
      • 11:00 PIXE imaging for the detection of artefacts looted in conflict zones 1h0'
        Principles and merits of PIXE imaging for heritage forensics. Cold case study from cultural goods at auction. Application to the provenancing of a Mesopotamian figurine made of lapis-lazuli presented at auction and to the evidencing of suspicious traces at the surface. Present in the red list of cultural objects exposed to trafficking publicized by the International Council of Museums, its acquisition for public collections was vetoed.
        Speaker: Thomas Calligaro (C2RMF, France)
      • 12:00 Bones, teeth and ivory --AMS 14C for the detection of crime and illicite ivory trade 1h0'
        From archaeological to forensic applications
        C14 as a tool for identification human remains--study cases, 
        Avaaz and Elephant Action League study for Ivory
        Speaker: Irka Hajdas (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)
      • 13:00 Lunch break 1h0'
    • 14:00 - 17:00 Visit of Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste
      Location: Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste
      • 14:30 Welcome 10'
        Speaker: Franco Zanini (Elettra Sincrotrone, Italy)
      • 14:40 Synchrotron infrared spectroscopies and chemometrics to evaluate complex forensic samples 50'
        Synchrotron radiation applications in the infrared regime are increasingly important in forensics. The non-destructive and non-invasive nature of this kind of analysis, which is able to provide chemical information whilst maintaining the integrity of the samples, in one of the main reasons for this success. The disadvantage of this approach is that the spectral information is often redundant and affected by spectral artefacts. The presentation will focus on the use of synchrotron sources and chemometrics in order to bypass the problems of interpretation of complex contexts in view of an increased implementation of advanced analytical infrared methodologies in scientific police laboratories.
        Speaker: Franco Zanini (Elettra Sincrotrone, Italy)
      • 15:30 Forensic applications of synchrotron light sources 30'
        IAEA end-station at Elettra
      • 16:00 Visit of the synchrotron 30'
  • Thursday, 23 May 2019
    • 06:00 - 21:00 Field trip to a forensic laboratory
  • Friday, 24 May 2019
    • 08:30 - 12:30
      • 08:30 Strategic considerations for forensic tools in casework 1h0'
        In February 2009, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its report on forensic science: Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward (2009). Within three months of its publication, Justice Scalia cited the report in a Supreme Court decision, writing: “Forensic evidence is not uniquely immune from the risk of manipulation. . . Serious deficiencies have been found in the forensic evidence used in criminal trials.” In the USA both the Senate and the House held hearings, and a bill was introduced in Congress. In addition, the President appointed a committee on forensic science. New institutions desiring to provide new forensic services needs to cope with this debate. The presentation will provide the key aspects to the development of an ongoing strategic planning and execution process, offering some guidance for implementation and continual improvement in the provision of forensic science services.
        Speaker: Francesco Romolo (University of Bergamo, Italy)
      • 09:30 Strategic considerations for an ion beam facility to deal with forensic science 1h0'
        This talk will give a glimpse into some strategic aspects that  accelerator facilities need to consider and clarify during the pathway to adoption for new forensic methods. End-user requirements, standardization, data interpretation, chain of custody, and nature of the relationship between IBA scientists and forensic stakeholders will be covered. 
        Speaker: Aliz Simon (IAEA, Austria)
      • 10:30 Coffee break 30'
      • 11:00 Round table discussion on perspectives and challenges to enhance the role of accelerators in forensic science 30'
        Speakers: Aliz Simon (IAEA, Austria), Francesco Romolo (University of Bergamo, Italy), Johnny F. Dias (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil), Thomas Calligaro (C2RMF, France)
      • 11:30 Evaluation of the workshop - Closing remarks 1h0'
        Speakers: Aliz Simon (IAEA, Austria), Sandro Scandolo (ICTP, Italy)