Taking the fingerprint of smuggled wood
Chemists at the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have been developing a method to identify trafficked wood on the spot using chemical fingerprinting. The USFWS has been instrumental in developing this technique for wood identification and sharing it with law enforcement labs around the world. The technique is called direct analysis in real time mass spectrometry, or DART-MS for short. Today, the suite of molecules it measures can be used to rapidly identify the species, and sometimes even the region, a piece of wood came from.