Description: Diatoms exist extensively in rivers, lakes, and seas. With siliceous frustules, diatoms possess characteristics such as anti-acid corrosion, sensitivity to water quality, porosity, and light-capturing, which enable them to be widely applied in various areas including forensic science. In this presentation, an improved method, i.e., MD-VF-Auto SEM, based on microwave digestion, vacuum filtration and automated scanning electron microscopy for the forensic diatom test for drowning diagnosis, is introduced. One of the most remarkable breakthroughs for this method is sensitivity with the positive test rate of more than 95% for drowning cases, which is usually one-third for conventional methods. Its advantages and applications in forensic practice as well as potential value for other related areas (e.g. water quality monitoring) are also presented.

Intended audience: Diatom-related researchers and technicians, forensic diatomologists, forensic pathologists, crime investigators, and others.