TOWARDS IMPROVEMENT OF TRACE DETECTOR SCREENING FOR THE ANALYSIS OF ILLICIT DRUGS

Leonard T. Demoranville, Jennifer R. Verkouteren, Greg Gillen

Surface and Microanalysis Science Division, Material Measurement Laboratory, NIST

Explosive trace detection units have been widely deployed in airports and other locations as a screening tool utilized for the detection of potential hidden explosives. Considerable research has been conducted to evaluate the performance of the instruments for this purpose and standardize their response. Many of these units have also been employed for the screening of illicit drugs in locations such as prisons.

Recent investigations at NIST have sought to better understand the performance of trace detectors for use in illicit drug screening. For instance, there is currently no universally accepted mobility standard for ion mobility based trace detectors in the drug mode. One proposed class of standards is tetraalkyl ammonium salts. These salts have the potential to be used over a wide range of mobilities and provide insight into instrument performance. Additionally, several compounds of emerging interest have recently been tested with instrumental parameters optimized for detection. Further studies on day-to-day reproducibility will also be presented.