Trace Detection of Narcotics Using A Preconcentrator/Ion Mobility Spectrometer System   [open pdf - 498KB]

This report discusses work performed in the area of trace drug detection, primarily at New Mexico State University (NMSU), during fiscal year 1999. These experiments combined a chemical preconcentrator and associated control hardware developed at Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) with an ion mobility spectrometer (IMS) constructed at NMSU. The preconcentrator is of the same patented design used in the SNL trace detection portal that screens personnel for explosives, and the IMS is of a cross-flow design where analyte molecules are ionized downstream from the ion source region. The overall goal of these studies was to investigate the efficacy of the preconcentrator in the general field of drug detection. In addition, it was hoped to make an initial determination concerning the feasibility of a trace drug detection portal for personnel screening that would operate on the same principles as the explosives detection portal. Based on our current results, it appears that such a drug detection portal could be developed, but more research and development is needed to work toward this goal. The next logical step in the development of such a portal would be to extend the present studies to include detection of both trace and bulk drug samples in a mock-up portal. The principal results discussed in this report include the use of the IMS to detect drugs with and without nicotinamide dopant and studies of the preconcentrator efficiency. Limits of detection were not investigated in detail, but the IMS could easily detect one microgram of all the drugs studied. The primary drugs studied are methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

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