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Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Illicit Drug Mixtures on Paper Currency Using Raman Microspectroscopy

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Abstract:

Measurement of illicit drugs on paper currency is of interest for evidentiary purposes in legal cases involving the drug trade. Current methods, primarily based on mass spectrometry, are destructive and prevent re-analysis of the evidence. This article details a method based on Raman microspectroscopy that is able to collect spectra from individual crystals on the surface of paper currency. Mixtures of isoxsuprine and norephedrine, which are non-pharmacologically active drug surrogates, as well as lidocaine and benzocaine, common excipients in street drugs, were doped in small quantities onto US currency. Significant fluorescence interference resulted from the underlying dollar bill. This work presents two methods for reducing the fluorescence background, photobleaching and background subtraction, which both worked well. Finally, a method for determining the percent composition of individual components in heterogeneous mixtures was developed by systematically sampling the surface of the dollar bill. Results were accurate within a few percent, although the method was quite time consuming.

Keywords: FORENSICS; MICROSPECTROSCOPY; RAMAN SPECTROSCOPY

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1366/000370205775142610

Affiliations: Department of Chemistry, College of the Holy Cross, One College St., Worcester, Massachusetts 01610

Publication date: December 1, 2005

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