Smart forensic kit: Real-time estimation of postmortem interval using a highly sensitive gas sensor for microbial forensics

Joonchul Shin, Young Geun Song, Sung Jin Jung, Taeehee Yoon, Gwang Su Kim, Jeong Hun Kim, Hyung Ho Park, Byeong Kwon Ju, Seong Keun Kim, Seung Hyub Baek, Hyo Il Jung, Chong Yun Kang, Jin Sang Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microbial forensics, exploiting bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes, has been considered as one of the primary fields to trace the postmortem interval from the decaying cadavers. On the other hand, there remain several challenges of laboratory-based analysis for prediction of postmortem interval, including long-time measurement, complicated measuring procedure, and bacterial growth while carrying samples from the scene. Herein, we introduce the Smart Forensic Kit, which consists of a highly sensitive colorimetric gas sensor, a quality control algorithm, and a smartphone-based analysis method, to quantify the bacterial-derived ammonia gas in real-time. As a result, the estimation system of the postmortem interval has a superior selectivity to the ammonia gas with a detection limit of 38.7 ppb, response linearity to the target bacteria (Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Pseudomonas putida), and short measuring time (10 min) with the maximum predicted postmortem interval from the mouse carcass (168 h). Furthermore, thanks to measuring the postmortem interval within 10 min, the negligible increase rate of bacterial concentration was observed. Consequently, the results reflected a high correlation between the ammonia gas emitted from bacteria and the postmortem interval so that we believe the Smart Forensic Kit will be applied for tracing down the decomposition of the cadavers in the near future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128612
JournalSensors and Actuators, B: Chemical
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Nov 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Instrumentation
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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