Fiber Analysis in Forensics: Procedure & Results Video

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Common Characteristics of Fingerprints

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 Small Fibers Can…
  • 1:37 Fibers as Evidence
  • 2:52 Identifying Fibers
  • 4:18 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

Wherever you go, you leave clues that you were there. Fibers are one such piece of evidence, making them useful in forensic analysis. Here you'll learn about the different types of fibers and how their properties are compared for source identification.

Small Fibers Can Provide Big Clues

Imagine you were given a set of dark blue towels as a gift. The thought was nice, but the towels themselves weren't because they weren't very high quality. When you dried yourself with them you got covered in little blue fibers. Not exactly what you expected from the towels.

While these left behind fibers annoyed you, to a forensics analyst they are a gold mine. That's because fibers can provide clues about who was at the scene of a crime. Because they're so small, fibers are considered trace evidence. Other types of trace evidence include glass shards and hair. Fibers may be collected at a crime scene with tweezers, by vacuuming, and even tape lifting. Like all pieces of small trace evidence, fibers are easily moved or lost, so collection must be done quickly and carefully.

Fiber sources are not limited to clothing or fabric material. In fact, there are three different types of fibers, which are classified based on what they consist of. There are natural fibers that come from plants and animals. These include materials like wood and cotton. There are also manufactured fibers, which are fibers from unnatural materials that are created from natural materials. Rayon is an example of this type of material. And finally, there are synthetic fibers, which are fibers from completely manmade materials. Think things like polyester for this type of material.

Fibers as Evidence

If you look at a fiber, you might not see much there. But fibers can provide many pieces of information, such as what may or may not have happened at a crime scene or who may have been there. This includes both victims and criminals.

Fibers can be compared to specific sources, such as pieces of clothing and vehicles, to see if they match. The fiber's type, color, and even its texture are all helpful in identifying the origin of the fiber.

Fibers can also help determine whether physical contact occurred. Fibers are transferred when a person comes into contact with objects and other people. The greater the number of fibers transferred, the more likely it was that physical contact occurred. Additionally, a victim may grab, scratch, pull, or otherwise try to defend themselves against an attacker. In these cases, fibers can get under fingernails and into other small areas where they will later be found during an autopsy.

On a larger scale, fibers can also leave a lasting impression - quite literally! Highly textured fabrics like corduroy can imprint other materials, leaving behind clues for a forensics analyst to discover.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account