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FirstDefender™ Chemical Identification System Evaluation - Technology Evaluation

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2008
9 pages

The National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) evaluated the FirstDefender chemical identification system manufactured by the Ahura Corporation, which is a portable handheld Raman instrument currently used by civilian first responders, military personnel, and homeland security personnel for the rapid identification of unknown solid and liquid chemical substances.


Based on the evaluation data, the assessment concludes that the Ahura Raman instrument detects and identifies drug and ignitable liquid samples under the following conditions: the compound of interest is not a minor component in the examined mixture, the sample is not heavily pigmented, and the compound of interest is not combined with an interfering fluorescent component. The instrument has a rugged exterior housing coupled with a removable protective boot that shields the handheld unit from excessive shock, vibration, chemical exposure, and water submersion. The FirstDefender has a well-integrated software platform that uses a patented DecisionEngine technology intended for sample mixture interpretation. In addition, the instrument uses nondestructive sample testing techniques. Although most sample results can be obtained quickly, samples that contain more than one component can be problematic for this type of technology. The purpose of this performance evaluation was to determine the suitability of this innovative technology for the analysis and identification of forensically relevant substances. The samples used in the evaluation were selected as a small representative subset from controlled substances, noncontrolled substances (including common cutting agents), and ignitable liquids. This report outlines the training requirements for users of the instrument and recommends ways for operators to ensure their safety and health are protected while using the instrument. Ways to improve the instrument are also suggested. 4 figures and 3 tables

Date Published: February 1, 2008