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A Systematic Evaluation of the Analysis of Drug Microcrystals Using Infrared Microspectroscopy

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2017
18 pages

This project's purpose was to develop an infrared microspectroscopy method for drug micro crystals, with a focus on emerging novel psychoactive substances.


It was anticipated that the combination of two uncorrelated techniques, microcrystalline tests and infrared microspectroscopy, would yield a rapid, cost-effective, and sensitive analytical scheme in which each of the techniques is strengthened by the other. The project succeeded in developing previously unreported microcrystalline tests for several novel psychoactive substances. The combination method was applied against six street psychoactive drug samples, successfully identifying the primary psychoactive substance in each of the samples. The benefits of this analytical scheme are that it is easy to perform, requires microgram quantities of samples, is cost-effective, and is effective as a screening technique for unknown drug samples. For forensic laboratories using the microcrystalline tests for routine identification of traditional drugs such as cocaine and heroin, having a reference library of photomicrographs of other drugs is a useful tool when faced with mixtures. During the 2-year period of the project, it performed a systematic study of microcrystalline tests for synthetic drugs; applied infrared microspectroscopy to the microcrystals and obtained molecular spectra of the crystals; developed a reference library of microcrystal photomicrographs and infrared spectra; and performed infrared microspectroscopy analysis of typical forensic drug samples. Details are provided on the microcrystalline tests and infrared micro spectroscopy. 5 references, listings of scholarly products and planned publications, and appended molecular structure of each of the psychoactive substances studied in the project

Date Published: August 1, 2017