FTIR in drug analysis – Learning to walk

FTIR in drug analysis makes an important contribution to the fight against drug-related deaths. Special testing centers, offer drug addicts the possibility to have their drugs checked by FTIR, minimizing the drugs potential damage and preventing overdosing. Similarily, it is also used at festivals for the same purposes, and by law enforcement to analyze suspicious material.

But there’s a catch …

FT-IR spectrometers that offer the needed performance for those applications, are not designed for deployment in the field. Just imagine the commotion at a festival or the circumstances of a police drug bust – really no place for a laboratory system.

But Bruker finally found a way to help FTIR spectrometers learning to walk a more dangerous road … but first, back to the topic.

More drug deaths due to crises

Drug deaths from overdoses have increased dramatically in recent years. Among other things, the opioid crisis in North America and the Corona pandemic are responsible for this.

While it is essential to help addicts find ways out of their addiction, other options to reduce drug deaths must be considered to avoid further tragedy. These include programs in which illicit substances can be anonymously tested for their composition. This gives the help organizations the opportunity to talk to addicts and to show them a way out of their predicament.

FTIR in drug analysis can detect a large variety of drugs, such as heroine.

How does this help in fighting drug related deaths?

Drugs such as Heroin are often adulterated to increase the profit for drug cartels and dealers. One of the substances used as a cutting agent or filler is Fentanyl.

This synthetic opioid is easier to obtain than heroin, less expensive and on top of that 50-100 times stronger than morphine and because of this potency, unintentional overdoses occur frequently. However, these can be prevented by testing illegal substances in confidential drug-checking centers.

FTIR in harm reduction

The method of choice in many of these facilities is FTIR spectroscopy because it identifies drugs and lacing agents quickly and reliably. The sample is simply placed onto the device, measured, and then compared to spectral libraries such as the TICTAC library. This delivers a complete breakdown of the substance measured and offers additional details.

With Bruker’s easy to handle ALPHA II spectrometer the analysis takes less than a minute and requires no sample preparation, additional chemicals, or consumables. Thus, FTIR makes an important contribution to the direct reduction of fatalities caused by adulterated drugs.

FTIR in drug analysis also uses spectral libraries such as the TICTAC library.

Ok, but let’s get to the catch again … For now, we have been talking about harm prevention at testing centers. As mentioned in the beginning, this is not the only place where FTIR spectroscopy helps in in harm reduction.

It is also suitable for the identification of suspicious substances during drug raids, at festivals or at border controls. In these cases, a portable FTIR spectrometer is the optimal choice. The advantage is obvious; an analysis directly on site is possible. Unfortunately, the downside of currently available mobile FTIR devices is that they cannot match the usually needed performance of lab-based spectrometers.

Until now.

MOBILE IR II – Ready when you are

The Bruker MOBILE IR II is the first FTIR spectrometer with true lab-grade performance and 100% rugged build. It is thus suitable for off-road use, even when things get a bit rough.

Its integrated Li-ion battery is a great advantage in places where there is limited or no access to power outlets. This allows you to get all the advantages of a laboratory spectrometer out in the field without sacrificing spectral quality.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

This takes FTIR drug analysis to another level. The application range of the MOBILE IR II is broader though. It can be applied in mining and exploration as well as in incoming goods inspection. If you are interested in this new portable FTIR ATR spectrometer, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!

And in case you are looking for some ideas on what you could measure with the MOBILE IR II, here are some links to possible applications: