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Coupling Raman Spectroscopy With Ambient Sampling, Portable Mass Spectrometry for On-site, High-Throughput Evidence Confirmation on a Single Instrumental Platform

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2020
20 pages

This is the Final Research Report for a project whose primary goal was to develop a portable resource for collecting prosecutorial evidentiary data from illicit drugs by leveraging two instrumental techniques that are widely used in the forensic sciences, Raman spectroscopy and mass spectrometry (MS).


Proof-of-principle investigations conducted on a prototypical fieldable testbed indicate that this integrated methodology could be simplistic in operation and robust to the needs of today's forensic and law enforcement practitioners. It can produce prosecutorial chemical information from a single examination of drug evidence. In extending the applicability of Raman spectroscopy to trace evidence, the modification of paper substrates with novel metallic nanoparticles was examined to enable trace detection with surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SFRS) processes while minimizing interferences with PSI-MS spectral interpretation. This approach leveraged unique physical properties of novel nanoparticles for forensic applications, aligning with the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative to harness nanoscale science in solving important societal problems. The research design, methods, and analytical techniques are described. The project achieved the following: 1) fabrication of an optimized nanoparticle-modified paper substrate for integrated SERS-PSI-MS analysis; 2) demonstration of two-dimensional confirmatory analysis with a prototype SERS-PSI-MS source; 3)assessment of analytical performance of SERS-PSI-MS toward illicit drug confirmation; and 4) delivery of project-related deliverables and technical report to the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ). 6 figures, 24 references, and listing of project products

Date Published: November 1, 2020