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Fast On-site Screening of Seized Drugs by Electrochemical and Spectroscopic Tools: Identification of Fentanyl and Novel Psychoactive Substances

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2022
228 pages

This report describes the research design, methodology, data analysis, results and findings, confirmatory LC-MS/MS analytics of target analytes, and research limitations, of a study that addressed the need for the development of alternative, rapid, cheap, and reliable screening methods for in-situ drug identification.


This paper addresses the need for forensic laboratories to confirm drugs’ identities more rapidly due to increasing amounts of caseloads that have resulted from the emergence of novel psychoactive substances (NPS), and have led to increased backlogs and costs of analysis and incarceration, as well as the safety concern to law enforcement personnel and first responders. The researchers’ long-term objective for this project is to introduce smart, cost-effective, and portable instrumentation that integrates crime scenes with forensic laboratories in real-time, while the research presented in this paper had the primary goal of developing and validating ultrafast screening methods that increase the reliability and productivity of drug identification. The author presents powerful electrochemical (EC) techniques as surrogate technologies to detect emerging drugs, such as fentanyl and NPS, in drug trafficking and seized drug cases; he also proposes Raman spectroscopy as an orthogonal approach to EC via Spectro electrochemistry  experiment (EC-SERS) to enhance the scientific value of the evidence. Another goal for this research study was to evaluate chemometric tools for data-mining of EC and Raman information for improved drug identification.

Date Published: December 1, 2022