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Novel Technique Improves Analysis of Thermally Unstable Illicit Drugs

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2020
1 page

This National Institute of Justice-funded study sought to improve the analysis of illicit drugs, such as methamphetamine, when heated in gas chromatographs.


Analyzing illicit drugs such as methamphetamine can be complicated because the drugs break down when heated in gas chromatographs. National Institute of Justice-funded scientists from Purdue University sought to improve the analysis of thermally unstable drugs through a combination of derivatization and a novel total vaporization solid phase microextraction (TV-SPME) technique. The researchers, led by chemist John Goodpaster, analyzed 33 drugs and drug variants to compare standard liquid injections to the novel TV-SPME method. They found that drugs such as amphetamine, 2C-I (a psychedelic), and lorazepam could be identified with TV-SPME directly; however, other drugs could not, requiring an additional derivatization step. The derivatization was done using a modification of the solid phase microextraction in which chemical compounds were collected on a special fiber and then vaporized.

Date Published: June 1, 2020