Elemental analysis of glass fragments by ICP-MS as evidence of association: Analysis of a case

Shirly Montero, Andria L. Hobbs, Timothy A. French, José R. Almirall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) was used to analyze glass evidence from a case in which a person broke a window in each of 15 vehicles in a parking lot in order to gain entry into the vehicles. The results of the analysis by traditional methods, which measure the properties of color, thickness, density, and refractive index, are also reported. A total of 15 known samples representing the windows on the cars and 42 questioned glass fragments recovered from the suspect and the police vehicle where the suspect was sitting were submitted for analysis. Density comparisons separated one of the known samples into three samples, increasing the number of known samples from 15 to 17. The concentrations of 16 elements were measured for all but three of the samples using an external calibration ICP-MS method with internal standardization. Color assessment (non-instrumental) separated the 17 known samples into two groups, and refractive index measurements resulted in six groups when the Emmons double variation method was used and ten groups when the Glass Refractive Index Measurement 2 (GRIM2) system was used. Elemental analysis, by itself, differentiated all of the known samples from each other and associated four of the known sample fragments with several of the questioned sample fragments. The informing power of RI, density, and elemental analysis comparisons is evaluated and a summary of the case results is reported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1101-1107
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Elemental analysis
  • Forensic science
  • Glass comparisons
  • Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry
  • Refractive index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics


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