Synthesizing Joullie | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 85 Issue 23 | p. 4 | Letters
Issue Date: June 4, 2007

Synthesizing Joullie

Department: Letters

I was pleased to read your article honoring Madeleine Joulli?? (C&EN, April 23, page 43). Over 20 years ago, several of us from the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) became aware of Joulli??'s excellent skills in organic synthesis and approached her to assist us in synthesizing novel reagents for visualizing latent prints on porous surfaces. In particular, we were interested in reagents that visualize the amine-containing compounds found in fingerprint residue.

Joullié and her students diligently prepared several, referred to as ninhydrin analogs, that are now commercially available. She, along with Joseph Almog in Israel and Chris Lennard in Australia, became the pioneers of novel latent print visualizing reagents. She not only prepared those new analogs but also devised new synthetic routes to this family of compounds and provided mechanistic explanations to their activity with amino acids.

One of the more notable reagents made in her laboratory is 1,2-indanedione. It has generated immense interest in the forensic science community and is being included as a routine operational reagent in several laboratories for visualizing latent prints on paper evidence. In the late 1980s, a group of forensic chemists gathered at the USSS forensic laboratory several times to discuss the chemistry of fingerprint development, and Joullié's role was pivotal. That group, now called the International Fingerprint Research Group, met recently in Canberra, Australia, and several presentations were given on Joullié's 1,2-indanedione.

Antonio A. Cantú
Falls Church, Va.

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