U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Raman Spectroscopy with Multi-component Searching for Complex Clandestine Laboratory Sample Analysis (I), Raman Spectroscopy as a Rapid, Non-destructive Screening Test for Methamphetamine in Clandestine Laboratory Liquids (II), and Raman Spectroscopy for Enhanced Synthetic Cathinone Analysis (III)

NCJ Number
Date Published
54 pages
This report explores three aspects of raman spectroscopy relative to clandestine laboratory and synthetic cathinone analysis in forensic controlled substance laboratories.
The use of raman spectroscopy and a spectral deconvolution software was examined to determine whether the software was capable of identifying the dissolved components of clandestine laboratory liquid samples. Mock laboratory samples as well as true forensic case samples were analyzed by raman spectroscopy and the deconvolution software. The raman signal from the dissolving solvent was found to be too strong and masked the dissolved components signal too much for the software to be able to reliably identify any dissolved components. Raman spectroscopy was examined as a possible rapid, safe, and non-destructive screening technique for clandestine laboratory liquids. It was discovered that while the bulk of the raman signal is masked by a dissolving solvent, methamphetamine exhibits a strong raman band that can be seen even when dissolved in typical clandestine laboratory solvents like ethanol and diethyl ether. This raman band is discernible down to approximately 4% methamphetamine and, combined with the ability of raman spectroscopy to analyze samples through container, represents a useful screening technique for multiple liquids submitted in a clandestine laboratory that improves not only efficiency but the safety profile of the analysis. The use of raman spectroscopy as an analytical technique to more effectively discern very similar structural isomers of synthetic cathinones was investigated. Preliminary data shows potential for this analysis; however, the instrumentation available was not sufficient to overcome fluorescence interference that occurs with many of the cathinone compounds. A raman spectrometer with a 780 nm laser operating at a significantly higher power than what was available or, ideally, a raman spectrometer with a 1064 nm laser is much better suited for this analysis and represents strong future research potential.

Date Published: January 1, 2014