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Low-cost Handheld Spectrometer and Cloud-Based Data Analysis for Improved Identification of Substances of Abuse

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $50,000)

As submitted by the applicant: A sensitive, rapid, high-sensitivity and low cost method for detecting substances of abuse has been developed. Through the implementation of new fluorescent indicators and a smart phone capable analysis system we have produced an analysis system that not only identifies target compounds with enhanced specificity, but preserves the chain of evidence. These new fluorescent indicators are based on low cost metal complexes and allow greater detection sensitivity and flexibility. These indicators are shelf stable and the complexes formed can be stored for long periods of time without loss of fluorescence. The fluorescence observed in these complexes is due to the nature of the metal and metal-analyte bonds present in the complex. This is a well understood phenomena and will stand up to Daubert challenges. By leveraging 3d printing technology with these new fluorescent indicators, and smart phone technology, we have developed a spectrometer that can be used with the camera of a smart phone for the identification of unknown substances through the use of specialized test strips using our fluorescent indicator. A dedicated app and cloud-based database will be developed to analyze the data and produce identification. This system can also facilitate the assessment of new oil wells as well as the identification of biological stains and explosives. This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law. ca/ncf

Date Created: September 15, 2015