• Glass is technically defined as: “The inorganic product of fusion which has
cooled to a rigid condition without crystallizing”.
• Glass is a hard, amorphous material made by melting sand, lime (CaO) and
sodium oxide (Na2O) at very high temperatures and then cooling it so quickly
that there is no time for crystals to form in the glass. Its primary ingredient is
silicon dioxide (SiO2), also called silica.
• Na2O reduces the melting point of silica / sand, and CaO is prevents the glass
from being soluble in water.
• In contrast to crystalline solids, which have an ordered internal arrangement
of atoms, the internal structure of glass consists of a 3D network of atoms
lacking long-range symmetry or orderly arrangement. This condition is
referred to as the vitreous, or glassy, state.
• Does not have a specific M.P.
• Softens over a temperature range
• Formers - forms the glassy, non-crystalline structure
Examples: SiO2, B2O3, P2O5, GeO2, V2O5, As2O3
• Fluxes - improve melting properties but impart low chemical resistance -
typically alkali or alkaline earth oxides
Examples: Na2O, K2O, LiO, Al2O3, B2O3, Cs2O
• Modifiers (stabilizers or intermediates) - a material that improves stability.
Typically oxides of Ca, Al, or Zn
• Stabilizers – Chemical/Corrosion Resistance:
Examples: CaO2, MgO2, Al2O3, PbO2, SrO, BaO, ZnO2, ZrO
TYPES OF GLASS
A) On the basis of manufacturing
– Ordinary sheet glass
– Float glass(plate)
B) On the basis of composition:
– Oxide glass
– Non oxide glass
C) On the basis of market application:
– Commercial /soda lime glass
– Lead glass
– Borosilicate glass
– Laminated glass
– Tempered glass
Other Types of Glass
• Glass fibre
• Vitreous silica
• Alumino-silicate glass
• Alkali-barium silicate glass
• Glass ceramics
• Technical glass
• Phosphate glass
• Optical glass
• Sealing glass
• Visual Inspection of Known/ Questioned for Fracture Matches
• Comparison of Glass:
– Physical Properties
– Optical Properties
– Chemical Properties
– Classification of Glass into End Use Category - The ability to use some measured
characteristics of a questioned object to place it into a product use class.
– Discrimination between glass samples - The ability to distinguish between two or
more objects within the same product use class.
– Interpretation and Value of Results
First of all physical properties are assessed.
Optical properties of the specimens are measured next.
Chemical composition of the glass is typically measured last.
SCOPE OF ANALYSIS
Altering the compounds used to make glass changes the composition and
produces different types of glass. The composition of a particular piece of
glass may be unique and therefore identifiable. Because glass is made of a
variety of compounds, it is possible to distinguish one type of glass from
another by examining the different physical and chemical properties. We will
examine some of the properties of glass, such as density, refractive index,
and fracture patterns that are used in the forensic examination.
• Glass, as a physical clue, is frequently encountered in various crimes; such as
burglary, road accidents, murder, sexual assaults, shooting incidents, arson,
• Thus during investigations, glass forms one of the evidentiary materials in
SCOPE OF ANALYSIS
• The chips of broken glass window may be lodged in suspect’s shoes or
garments during the act of burglary/crime; particles of headlight glass found
at the crime scene may offer clues that confirm the identity of a suspected
• Whenever there is violence, bottles, window pane glass, mirrors, eye glasses
and other glass objects can be accidently scattered and fragments of these
can also adhere to the criminal’s clothing or shoes.
• Broken glass fragments ranging in size from large pieces to tiny shards may
be transferred to and retained by nearby persons or objects or alleged
assailantwhere a bottle is used as weapon.
• The mere presence of fragments of glass on the clothing of an alleged burglar
in a case involving entry through a broken window may be significant
evidence if fragments are found. The significance of such evidence will be
enhanced if the fragments are determined to be indistinguishable in all
measured properties from the broken window.
MAJOR FORENSIC GLASS SOURCES
Flat Glass – Soda lime silicate - Drawing, Rolling, or Floating
Coated: Surface modification - Mirrors
Laminated: Sandwiched around plastic - Automotive windshields
Headlights: Sometimes borosilicate
Light bulbs: Soda lime glass
Heat absorbing/ UV filtering - Tinted
Photochromic (Light Sensitive) - Eyeglasses
DENSITY = MASS / VOLUME
• The ratio of the mass of an object to the volume occupied by that object.
(g/cm3 (solids); g/mL (liquids))
• One method of matching glass fragments is by a density comparison. Each
type of glass has a density that is specific to that glass. If two samples of glass
can be differentiated by density, they could not have originated from the
• Densities of solids and liquids are often compared to the density of water.
• Glass density can be measured by Displacement, Flotation, and Density
Gradient Column methods.
• Density varies with temperature.
• Density Gradient Method - The method involves placing, in a vertical glass
tube, a liquid containing a gradient of density. The gradient is such that the
density at any level is less than that at any level lower in the tube and greater
than that of any level higher in the tube. When glass fragments are introduced
to the column, each will become suspended in the liquid at the level that is the
same density as that glass fragment. Fragments of different density will settle
to different levels in the column.
• Flotation Method - Is a precise and rapid method for comparing glass
densities. A glass particle is immersed in a liquid. The density of the liquid is
adjusted by addition of small amounts of appropriate liquid until the glass
chips remains suspended in the liquid. At this point glass will have same
density as a liquid medium . Ohter pieces of glass will sink or float.
• Displacement Method - The mass of a fragment of glass and the volume of
water it displaces, can help calculate the density
WHY IT IS LESS FREQUENTLY MEASURED
Density measurements are performed less frequently than refractive index
The glass fragment must be scrupulously clean and free of inclusions.
Accurate density measurements require a sample that is two to three
millimeters in diameter.
Density measurements required the use of hazardous liquids, such as
Refraction is the change in the direction of light as it speeds up or slows
down when moving from one medium into another. The direction and
amount the light bends varies with the densities of the two mediums.
The refractive index is a tool used to study how light bends as it passes
through one substance and into another. Any substance through which light
can pass has its own characteristic refractive index. The refractive index of a
substance is calculated by dividing the speed of light in a vacuum a space
empty of all matter by the speed of light through that particular substance.
It IS THE MOST COMMONLY MEASURED PROPERTY IN THE FORENSIC
EXAMINATION OF GLASS FRAGMENTS. It can aid in the
characterization of glass. It provides good discrimination potential.
• If a colourless piece of glass is put into water, you can still see it because the
water and glass have different refractive indices.
• The refractive index of glass does not vary significantly with temperature, but
those of liquids do.
• If a piece of glass is placed in a liquid which is then heated, at some point the
refractive indices will be identical and you will no longer be able to see the
piece of glass.
• If there are two pieces of glass – one the suspect and one from the scene of
crime, have identical refractive indices, then they are from the same source.
Automobile head light Glass - 1.47 – 1.49
Bottles - 1.51 – 1.52
Window Glass - 1.51 – 1.52
Opthalmic Glass - 1.51 – 1.52
• Example 1: A beam of light travels in air (medium 1) and then passes through a
piece of glass (medium 2). As the light passes from the air into the piece of glass,
the light ray is bent . What is the angle of refraction measured from the normal?
• refractive index of air (medium 1) = 1.00, refractive index of glass (medium 2) =
1.50, angle 1 = 45°, angle 2 = ?
• n1 (sin of angle 1) = n2 (sin of angle 2)
• Substituting what we know into Snell’s law:
• 1.00 (sin of 45°) = 1.50 (sin of angle 2)
• The sine of 45° is 0.7071.
• 1.00 (0.7071) = 1.50 (sin of angle 2)
• (0.7071)/1.50 = sin of angle 2
• 0.4714 = sin of angle 2
• angle 2 = 28.1° ≈ 28°
• This answer makes sense because the light is moving from a less-dense substance
in medium 1 (air) to a denser substance in medium 2 (glass). The light will slow
down and bend toward the normal. Angle 1 is 45° and angle 2 is smaller at 28°,
indicating that the light did bend toward the normal.
• If the refractive index (n) of the liquid medium is different from the refractive
index of the piece of glass, a halo-like ring appears around the edge of the
glass. This halo-like effect is called a Becke line. It appears because the
refracted light becomes concentrated around the edges of the glass
• If the Becke line is located inside the perimeter of the glass fragment, then
the refractive index of the glass is higher than the refractive index of the
• If the Becke line is located on the outside of the perimeter of the glass
fragment, then the refractive index of the surrounding medium is higher than
the refractive index of the glass.
Materials can be added to the batch to produce glass in practically any color.
Impurities present in the raw materials used to produce glass can impart
Differences in color represent a change in glass chemistry and can be used to
Typically not possible to reliably perform colorimetry on glass fragments in
forensic casework due to too small size and too low color density of samples.
Color assessment is performed visually against a white background in natural
light with the particle on edge.
Side-by-side comparison should be used with similarly sized particles.
DETECTION OF CURVATURE
An Interferometer can be used to detect the most minimal curvature on the
A Spherometer is used to measure the radius of curvature of the glass
fragments having curved surface.
Curvature indicates possible sources:
– other non-flat glass source
• Fluorescence can be used as a basis to differentiate glass specimens.
• The glass surface that was in contact with the tin bath during the
manufacturing procedure will fluoresce when exposed to short-wave (~254
nm) ultraviolet light.
• Fluorescence examinations can also be performed using fluorescence
spectroscopy on specimens as small as 0.05 mm2.
• Fluorescence on a glass surface will be detected only if the surface that will
fluoresce is preserved, collected, and analyzed.
– Tempered glass is greater than 3.0 mm thick
– Vehicle side windows are typically 3.3-3.6 mm thick
Glass composition analysis can be used to differentiate between:
• glasses made by different manufacturers,
• glasses from different production lines of the same manufacturer,
• glasses made over a period of time in a single production line.
Glass composition analysis is performed infrequently because:
Most methods of glass composition analysis are destructive.
Most methods require glass samples larger than those routinely encountered in
Most of the instrumentation used to measure glass composition is expensive to
purchase and maintain, and much of the instrumentation has few other applications.
Because of the complexity of the calculations, Bayesian statistical analysis including
compositional data is extremely difficult to apply.
TECHNIQUES USED FOR ELEMENTAL ANALYSIS
• Scanning electron microscopy-
energy dispersive spectrometry
• X-ray fluorescence
• neutron activation analysis
• flameless atomic absorption
• spark-source mass spectrometry
• inductively coupled plasma-optical
• inductively coupled plasma-mass
• laser ablation-inductively coupled
THICKNESS OF GLASS
Not all glass is the same thickness, and this difference provides another clue
for identifying glass. Picture frame glass is 1/8 inch thick, while window glass
must be 3/32 inch to 1/8 inch thick to resist wind gusts without breaking. Door
glass will vary in thickness from 3/16 inch to inch thickness and can also be
reinforced with wire threads running through it.
The trained examiner will be able to determine the composition, type, and
perhaps the manufacturer from a sample of glass found on a victim, suspect, or
at a crime scene. By determining the thickness, refractive index, and density of
the glass collected, glass fragments can be matched assuming a large enough
piece can be recovered.
ANALYZING GLASS FRACTURES
• Glass breaks in a characteristic manner which indicates the direction of travel of
the impacting object. Conchoidial striations are ripples seen through the cross
section of broken glass. They are always at right angles to the impacted surface.
• Radial cracks are formed first, commencing on the side of the glass opposite to
the destructive force.
• Concentric cracks occur afterward, starting on the same side as the force
• As the velocity of the penetrating projectile decrease, the irregularity of the shape
of the hole and of its surrounding cracks increase
• Fracture always terminates at the existing line fracture.
• Stress marks occur on the edge of a radial glass fracture. Stress marks run
perpendicular to one edge and parallel to the other edge of glass.
• Stress’ perpendicular edge is always located opposite from which the force of
• Concentric fractures, the perpendicular end always faces the surface on which the
• Radial cracks form a Right angle on the Reverse side of the force (4 R rule).
• When force is applied on any surface of
glass it bends but since the elasticity of
glass is limited ultimately, it gets fractured
after the threshold force application.
• An investigator often has to decide
whether a pane of glass was broken from
outside or from inside, whether it was
broken with a bullet or with a blunt object.
Impact of force on glass
• Impact causes a pane of glass to
• Side opposite the impact will stretch
more & rupture first
• Radial cracks are rapidly
propagated in short segments from
the point of impact
RADIAL AND CONCENTRIC CRACKS
Elasticity permits bending until radial cracks form on the opposite side of the
force. Continued force places tension on the front surface (force side),
forming the concentric cracks.
• When an object has been thrown through a glass pane, a fracture forming a
pattern somewhat like a spider-web will be seen.
• The cracks will appear radiating outwards from the point of impact making a
star shaped fracture known as radial fracture.
• The radial fracture originates on the surface opposite to that on which force
was applied. This type of fracture is always the first to appear on glass.
• A series of broken circles originate on the surface, on which force is being
applied around the point of impact. These are the secondary fractures as they
always appear after radial fractures. Concentric circles have same centre.
• The direction of a single bullet fired
through glass can be easily determined.
• As the bullet passes through the glass, it
pushes some glass ahead of it, causing a
cone-shaped piece of glass to exit along
with the bullet.
• This cone of glass makes the exit hole
larger than the entrance hole of the
When a bullet is travelling at high velocity
the opening on the reverse side of impact
will be larger
CONE FRACTURES: BY HIGH SPEED PROJECTILES
An object moving at a high rate of speed at impact, such as a bullet
striking the glass, produces fewer concentric circles. An object moving at a
slower rate of speed at impact, such as a rock thrown at a window,
produces a greater number of circles.
SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY OF GLASS FRACTURES
• If several shots are fired through the glass, the order in which the shots were
fired can be determined if enough of the glass is available or can be
reconstructed. The first shot produces the first set of fracture lines. These
lines set the boundaries for further fracturing by following shots. Radiating
fracture lines from a second shot stop at the edge of fracture lines already
present in the glass.
• Fracture patterns are unique; Pieces from the broken glass pane or hole often
show marks that are characteristics of the type of injury and direction of
• If correctly interpreted, these findings gives useful information about the
object used for breaking and velocity of breaking object.
• Fracture examinations can provide information as to the direction of the
breaking force and the sequence of multiple impacts.
PROPAGATION OF FRACTURES DUE TO MULTIPLE
PATH OF A BULLET PASSING THROUGH WINDOW
• The angle at which a bullet enters a piece of window glass can help locate the
position of the shooter.
• If the bullet was fired perpendicular to the windowpane, the entry hole of the
bullet will be round. If the bullet was fired into the window at an angle, fracture
patterns in the glass left by the bullet can be used to help locate the shooter’s
• If the shooter was firing at an angle coming from the left, glass pieces will be
forced out to the right. The bullet’s exit hole will form an irregular oval as it exits
to the right. If the shot originated at an angle coming from the right, glass pieces
will be forced out to the left, leaving an irregular oval hole to the left.
• Ammunition type may be determined from the size and characteristics of the
bullet hole. The distance from the shooter to the window can be estimated
based on knowledge of the type of ammunition and its effect on the window.
However, a high-speed bullet fired from a great distance will often exhibit
characteristics of a slower-speed bullet fired from a closer range.
• Bulletproof glass is a combination of two or more types of glass, one hard and
one soft. The softer layer makes the glass more elastic, so it can flex instead
of shatter. The index of refraction for both of the glasses used in the
bulletproof layers must be almost the same to keep the glass transparent and
allow a clear view through the glass.
• Patterns or scratches other than those already mentioned may be found on
evidence glass. For example, windshield wipers may leave marks on the
windshield or scratches on side glass etc.
NUMBER OF GLASS FRAGMENTS THAT CAN BE
TRANSFERRED IS CONTROLLED BY A NUMBER OF FACTORS:
The closer something is to the breaking glass, the more likely it is to have glass
fragments transferred to it. The number of fragments transferred decreases with
distance from the break (Pounds and Smalldon 1978).
The person breaking a window will have more glass on him or her than a
bystander, and the more blows required to break out the glass, the more glass
that will be transferred (Allen et al. 1998b).
The number of glass fragments generated by a break is independent of the size
and thickness of the window but increases with greater damage to the glass
(Locke and Unikowski 1992).
Less glass is retained on slick clothing, such as nylon jackets, than on rough
clothing, such as wool sweaters. Wet clothing retains more glass than dry
clothing. Glass fragments fall off clothing over time, and larger pieces fall off
before smaller pieces.