• Chem 128: Forensic Chemistry

Chemistry 128IN: Forensic Chemistry

These files are provided for students in CHM 128IN, an integrated lecture and laboratory course at Pima Community College West Campus for the 2012-2013 academic year.

This course differs from the CHM 128IN course taught at the East Campus of Pima Community College as this is a web enhanced course with extensive hands-on classroom experiments and activities. The East Campus CHM 128IN course is taught as a web hybrid course.

Lecture and Class Information:

CHM 128IN Syllabus for Fall 2012 The syllabus contains the case study information.

Case Study Information for CHM 128IN

Notes on metric system, chemical symbols, formulas, nomenclature, chemical equations, and more will be found in the General Chem Survival Manual section.

Course Notes and Reference Material:

The Periodic Table If you are looking for information on any chemical element, its properties, or its uses, use this link to the Web Elements Periodic Table by Mark Winter, Dept. of Chemistry, University of Sheffield. Probably the best periodic table on the Internet, it provides a wealth of information about the elements.

ChemSpider If you are searching for information on chemical compounds, their structure or other information, ChemSpider links together compound information across the web, providing free text and structure search access of millions of chemical structures. With an abundance of additional property information, tools to curate and use the data, and integration to a multitude of other online services, ChemSpider is the richest single source of structure-based chemistry information available online.  ChemSpider is provided free by the Royal Society of Chemistry

Many of the references listed below are links to other web sites. These links, or the information referred to, may change when web sites are updated. Some web sites may be deleted by sponsoring organizations over time. Please advise your instructor if a web site is no longer accessible.

The origins of chemistry

An Illustrated History of Alchemy and Chemistry from ancient times to 1800

Math Review includes significant figures and scientific notation

Math Review Algebraic operations you should be able to do before starting a general chemistry course

Math Answers Answers to the Math Review problems

Significant Figures, Exponents, and Scientific Notation A tutorial

A Summary of Significant Figures Rules

Answers for Significant Figures, Exponents, and Scientific Notation

Measurement, and Temperature

Metric System The SI system with a short history of measurement

Temperature Temperature measurement with a short historical background

Absolute Zero This is a program from NOVA (split into 10 chapters). The program presents a history of temperature measurement up to the modern methods of trying to reach absolute zero. This is a link to the NOVA website.

The Elements and the Periodic Table

Element Symbols A historical approach to modern element symbols

Forging the Elements How were the elements formed? This is a segement from the NOVA program Origins: Back to the Beginning. Watch the entire program (split into 6 chapters) or just select the Forging the Elements chapter. This is a link to the NOVA website.

The Periodic Table This is a link to the Web Elements Periodic Table by Mark Winter, Dept. of Chemistry, University of Sheffield. Probably the best periodic table on the Internet, it provides a wealth of information about the elements. This is the place to look for information about the chemical elements.

Electron configurations This is an applet for electron configurations from The ChemCollective at Carnegie Mellon

Prospects for Further Considerable Extension of the Periodic Table, a paper by Glenn T. Seaborg, Journal of Chemical Education, 46, Number 10, October 1969, p626

Island of Stability A video from NOVA explaining how heavy elements are made. This is a link to the NOVA website

Chemical Formulas and Nomenclature

Formula Writing Includes nomenclature of inorganic compounds.

Answers for Formula Writing

Additional Tables for Formula Writng These tables were supplied by Matthew Medeiros of Pima Community College.

Flowcharts for Naming Compounds and Common Acids

Chemical Formulas and Formula Weight Calculations

Organic Chemistry

Nomenclature of Organic Compounds

Notes on Organic Chemistry This is a PDF of the PowerPoint used in class

Nuclear Radiation

The following are links to web sites for natural radiation decay series.

Some Radioactive Decay Series showing half-lives. From the Uranium Information Center in Australia. Note: This is a pdf file and requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Natural Decay Series: Uranium, Radium and Thorium. From the Argonne National Laboratory Environmental Science Division.

Natural Radioactive Series by Yevgeniy Miretskiy. Select the decay series and the time step, then animate. This uses a bar graph to show the concentrations of the major isotopes formed in the decay series change over time. Additional data on half-lives and numbers of atoms are given on the right of the graph. Note: For long half-lives, select a longer time step.

The following are links to information on the Biological Effects of Radiation

Nuclear Radiation and Its Biological Effects. This is a link to an excerpt from the book No Immediate Danger, Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth, by Dr Rosalie Bertell

Biological Effects of Exposure to a Single Dose of Ionizing Radiation. A table summarizing the effects.

Radiation we are exposed to every day

General Articles

Chemistry in Britain articles Five short articles from the May 1993 issue of Chemistry in Britain:

Traces of poison , by Bill Wilson
Material evidence , by Martin Salter and Ken Wiggins
Size is no object , by Robin H. Keeley
High and dry , by Bill Wilson
A low profile , by Stephen T. Jones

CSI Effect An article on how the television show CSI impacts juries from the Arizona Star

Tales From the Crypt An excerpt from the book Dead Reckoning by Dr. Michael Baden and Marion Roach. This article arrpeared in Maxim, 2001

Intro and Physical Evidence

Intro and Physical Evidence This is the information for the initial class on forensics.

Blood drop studies

Bloodstain patterns . An activity investigating bloodstains with fake, home-made blood.

Bloodstain Pattern Analysis Tutorial This is a link to the main BPA page by J. Slemko Forensic Consulting Inc. Click on Bloodstain Resources on the main page to get to the Bloodstain Tutorial or to Analyze a Case Click on the Links for other sites for Bloodstain pattern analysis.

Some Notes on Blood Splatter Evidence

truTV (formerly Court TV) Projects

truTV has produced Forensics in the Classroom - five investigations for the classroom. These files are available on the tru TV website.


We use the BioRad Forensic DNA Fingerprinting Kit for class. This is an excellent introduction to DNA analysis. You will need micropipettes, a constant temperature bath, a microcentrifuge, and electrophoresis apparatus for this laboratory experiment. The kit description is on the BioRad Life Science Education web site under Classroom Kits. You can download the manual from this site.

The Forensic DNA Fingerprinting Kit Instruction Manual is available on the Documents tab of the BioRad Life Science Education web site. To access the Instruction Manual, you must register with BioRad. The student manual starts on page 23 with the Forensic DNA Fingerprinting Kit Quick Guide.

DNA Isolation Instructions on isolating DNA using household materials.

Familial DNA An article from the Arizona Star, February 10, 2010


Toxicology basics This is a PDF of a PowerPoint presentation Principles of Toxicology by Elizabeth Casarez of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy.

Notes on Toxicology basics This is a PDF file of the Principles of Toxicology (BIOC 597c) by Elizabeth Casarez of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy.

NIH/NLM Toxicology Tutor (also called Tox Tutors) from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Forensic Toxicology An article by Andrea Grippo from Forensic biology, 2001


Drug Testing Testing over-the-counter drugs. Similar to laboratory drug testing, but using non-controlled substances. A complete kit for this investigation is available from Flinn Scientific (Catalog no. AP5603)

Charts of Commonly Abused Drugs can be found at the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) web siites.

DEA Drug Information This is a link to the DEA site for fact sheets on a range of drugs.

Commonly Abused Drugs This is a link to the Onsite Drug Testing web site. The chart has a listing of the period of detection for each drug

Consumer Reports magazine published an excellent book Licit and Illicit Drugs. This is a link to that book online.


Fingerprint Card A fingerprint card. These are supplied in class. These cards are purchased from Tri-Tech Inc.

Fingerprint Patterns Common fingerprint patterns provided by Criminal Research Products, a part of Tri-Tech Inc.

Fingerprinting This is the classroom investigation.

Fingerprints and Minutiae Common fingerprint patterns and fine points of fingerprints provided by the San Jose , CA , forensic laboratory.

Fingerprints An article by Melissa Stewart on the history of fingerprinting. From Invention and Technology, Vol 17, No.1, Summer 2001

Forensic Medicine

Forensic Medicine Lecture Notes, by Dr. Derrick Pounder, University of Dundee This is a link to the forensic medicine web site of the University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland.

Hair and Fibers

Burning Tests for Fibers Summary of burning tests.

Hair Analysis This is the classroom investigation. .

Fiber Analysis This is the classroom investigation.

Major generic fibers A table listing fiber information.

Handwriting and Ink Analysis

Handwriting Analysis This is the classroom investigation.

Ink analysis This is the classroom investigation.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. This is a link to their web site. Go to the Authenicate Currency section to see how money is being redesigned to prevent counterfeiting.

Know your money This is a link to the U.S. Secret Service web page about U.S. currency.

How to Detect Counterfeit Money: 8 Ways to Tell if a Bill is Counterfeit This is an article by Jason Ruger on the FitSmall Business.com website. This page does sell commercial products and this link has not used or tested or recommends any of the products. The article does contains useful information.

Microscopic Analysis

Microscopic Analysis This is the classroom investigation.

Polymer Identification

Identification of Polymers This is the classroom investigation.

UV Detection

UV Detection Methods This is the classroom investigation.


References This is a list of additional references and a source for forensics supplies


Laboratory Experiments and Activities:

(These are PDF files and require acrobat reader.)

Safety in the Academic Laboratory

Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories, 7th Ed. This is a link to the publication by the American Chemical Society Joint Board-council Committee on Chemical Safety

Safety Test Questions These questions are similar, but not exactly the same, as those asked on the safety test. The safety test contains 35 questions.

Glass analysis is under development

Paint analysis is under development

Spectroscopic Analysis is under development

Emission spectra of elements: These are links to web sites for emission spectra of elements. Note: Academic websites may only be available for limited time periods.

A periodic table from University of Oregon. Click on an element to see the spectrum. Choose between absorption and emission spectra.

Quicktime movies from Beloit College. Click on the absorption, emission, or combination spectrum shown to initiate spectra. Move the slide on the bottom of the spectrum to select elements. Note: Apple Quicktime needed (a free download)

Spectroscopy: Element Identification and Emission Spectra. Contains an explanation of spectra with both selected flame spectra and element spectra following the explanation. This material was prepared by Dr. Walt Volland, Bellvue Community College.

Spectra of Gas Discharges by Joachim Koppen, University Strasbourg, France.

Table of Flame Colorant by Element from the Mineralogy Database.

A periodic table from Ivan Noels. Click on an element to see its spectrum.