White household paints are commonly encountered as evidence in the forensic laboratory but they often cannot be readily distinguished by color alone so Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) microscopy is used since it can sometimes discriminate between paints prepared with different organic resins. Here we report the first comparative study of FT-IR and Raman spectroscopy for forensic analysis of white paint. Both techniques allowed the 51 white paint samples in the study to be classified by inspection as either belonging to distinct groups or as unique samples. FT-IR gave five groups and four unique samples; Raman gave seven groups and six unique samples. The basis for this discrimination was the type of resin and/ or inorganic pigments/extenders present. Although this allowed approximately half of the white paints to be distinguished by inspection, the other half were all based on a similar resin and did not contain the distinctive modifiers/pigments and extenders that allowed the other samples to be identified. The experimental uncertainty in the relative band intensities measured using FT-IR was similar to the variation within this large group, so no further discrimination was possible. However, the variation in the Raman spectra was larger than the uncertainty, which allowed the large group to be divided into three subgroups and four distinct spectra, based on relative band intensities. The combination of increased discrimination and higher sample throughput means that the Raman method is superior to FT-IR for samples of this type.
Bell, S. E. J., Fido, L. A., Speers, S. J., Armstrong, W. J., & Spratt, S. (2005). Forensic analysis of architectural finishes using fourier transform infrared and raman spectroscopy, part II: White paint. Applied Spectroscopy, 59(11), 1340-1346. https://doi.org/10.1366/000370205774783232