Portable electrochemical screening of drugs

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


A continuously challenging area in the field of forensic science is the development of effective and accurate screening methodologies for the detection of illicit drugs. This is particularly true for new psychoactive substances (NPS), a group of compounds that mimic the effects of traditional drugs of abuse but with increased potency. Synthetic cannabinoids (SCs) are among the most widely used type of NPS, such cannabinoid receptor ligands are infamous for their associated adverse physiological consequences, the most extreme of which have lead to fatalities or overdose. Within the past few decades, there has been a rapid rise in the consumption and diversity of SCs yet few researchers have addressed the need to screen for these compounds. Electrochemical analytical methods are attracting considerable interest for the detection of illicit drugs due to their high degree of sensitivity, ease of use, portability, low cost, and rapid results. However, there has been little discussion on these methods for the screening of SCs and none employing electrochemiluminescence (ECL). Within this study we present, for the first time, the development and optimisation of an [Ru(bpy)3]2+/chitosan film screen-printed electrode sensor to investigate its potential for the qualification and quantification of the indole-based SC BB-22. The sensor displayed an appreciable ECL response with BB-22 as the co- reactant, ~15 times greater than that of the electrolytic medium blank. While there were issues with quantification and selectivity, this was attributed to the novelty of ECL for the detection of these compounds. Nevertheless, this portable electrochemical sensor proved its ability as a robust screening methodology for the detection of BB-22 with promise for future use in the forensic field.
Date of Award18 Nov 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde

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