This dissertation presents two specific forensic applications, illicit drugs and explosives, for consideration in the development of microfluidic technology, it also describes the development of microfluidic devices for various on-site colorimetric analyses.
The author of this dissertation seeks to address the requirement of field technology for the analysis of materials, specifically, explosives and illicit drugs, to be performed independently of a centralized facility, noting the clinical and forensic applications for which this technology may be used. The author describes the development of microfluidic devices and their associated features, for various on-site colorimetric analyses, and discusses trends in inexpensive microfluidic device fabrication techniques as well as examples of those devices used for analysis of explosives and illicit drugs. The author’s research goal was to determine a method of presumptive on-site testing of illicit drugs using inexpensive, single-use centrifugal microfluidic devices. The author describes using an objective colorimetric analysis technique on an Android cell phone application to evaluate the detection of cocaine and methamphetamine from unknown samples. The author also analyses various chemical reagent storage methods to aid in the complete integration of microfluidic devices for increased portability, initially using inkjet printing, custom glass capillary ampules, and hybrid polyester-paper devices for the integration of chemicals necessary for the various colorimetric reactions. For explosives colorimetric analysis, the author describes reagent storage techniques, noting the 90% success rate of 40 samples evaluated for the detection of eight different explosive compounds within eight minutes.