The importance of unknown substance identification in forensic science is vital to implementation or exclusion of criminal charges against an offender. While traditional laboratory measures include the use of gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy, an alternate method has been proposed to efficiently perform presumptive analyses of unknown substances at a crime scene or at airport security points. The use of portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) and visible near infrared diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DRS) to determine elemental composition was applied to pharmaceutical medications (n = 83), which were then categorized into 21 classifications based on their active ingredients. Each pharmaceutical was processed by standard laboratory procedures and scanned with both PXRF and DRS. Lastly, the datasets obtained were compared using multivariate statistical analyses. The aforementioned devices indicate that differentiation of unknown substances is clearly demonstrated among the samples with 73.49% DRS classification accuracy. Thus, the approach shows promise for future development as a rapid analytical technique for unknown pharmaceutical substances and/or illicit narcotics.
- Forensic analysis
- Proximal sensing