Methods for analysis of glass in glass-containing gunshot residue (gGSR) particles

Kelsey E. Seyfang, Nick Lucas, Rachel S. Popelka-Filcoff, Hilton J. Kobus, Kahlee E. Redman, K. Paul Kirkbride

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5 Citations (Scopus)


When lead, barium and antimony, or lead, barium, calcium, silicon and tin are found together in particles associated with a shooting investigation they are considered characteristic of gunshot residue (GSR). Antimony and tin are often absent from the primer of many low calibre rimfire ammunitions, which are the type most commonly used in Australia. Therefore, the likelihood of characteristic particles forming during the firing process of such rimfire ammunition is significantly less than the likelihood of these particles arising from higher calibre ammunition. The majority of rimfire ammunition examined in this research contains ground glass in the primer, which functions as a frictionator. These ammunitions produce a small number of gunshot residue particles containing glass coated with other primer components, which we refer to as glass-containing GSR (gGSR). If these particles are observed in an investigation, they have the potential to add a new dimension to gunshot residue analysis because they are not common in the environment. Furthermore, the composition of glass frictionator is stable during firing, which raises the possibility that chemical testing of the glass in gGSR may be used to identify the ammunition from which the residue was derived or to link deposits of GSR. This paper examines the application of scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDS), focussed ion beam (FIB) techniques and time of flight-secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) to the semi-quantitative analysis and comparisons of gGSR and frictionator extracted from unfired cartridges. SEM-EDS is effective for comparing gGSR with unfired frictionator, but the use of FIB to expose clean glass from the centre of gGSR followed by ToF-SIMS, or ToF-SIMS using ion sputtering to expose clean glass, offers more power for comparisons due to their capability for higher discrimination between frictionators from different sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-371
Number of pages13
JournalForensic Science International
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Elemental analysis
  • Focussed ion beam (FIB)
  • Glass-containing gunshot residue (gGSR)
  • Gunshot residue (GSR)
  • Sub-surface characteristics


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