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Screening tablets for DOB using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy

Bell, S.E.J., Fido, L.A., Sirimuthu, N.M.S., Speers, S.J.ORCID: 0000-0003-2027-2241, Peters, K.L. and Cosbey, S.H. (2007) Screening tablets for DOB using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 52 (5). pp. 1063-1067.

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2,5,‐Dimethoxy‐4‐bromoamphetamine (DOB) is of particular interest among the various "ecstasy" variants because there is an unusually long delay between consumption and effect, which dramatically increases the danger of accidental overdose in users. Screening for DOB in tablets is problematic because it is pharmacologically active at 0.2-3mg, which is c. 50 times less than 3,4‐methylenedioxy‐N‐methylamphetamine (MDMA) and makes it more difficult to detect in seized tablets using conventional spot tests. The normal Raman spectra of seized DOB tablets are dominated by the bands of the excipient with no evidence of the drug component. Here we report the first use of on‐tablet surface‐enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to enhance the signal from a low concentration drug. Raman studies (785‐nm excitation) were carried on series of model DOB/lactose tablets (total mass c. 400mg) containing between 1mg and 15μg of DOB and on seized DOB tablets. To generate surface‐enhanced spectra, 5μL of centrifuged silver colloid was dispensed onto the upper surface of the tablets, followed by 5μL of 1.0 mol/dm3 NaCl. The probe laser was directed onto the treated area and spectra accumulated for c. 20 sec (10 sec × 2). It was found that the enhancement of the DOB component in the model tablets containing 1mg DOB/tablet and in the seized tablets tested was so large that their spectra were completely dominated by the vibrational bands of DOB with little or no contribution from the unenhanced lactose excipient. Indeed, the most intense DOB band was visible even in tablets containing just 15μg of the drug. On‐tablet surface‐enhanced Raman spectroscopy is a simple method to distinguish between low dose DOB tablets and those with no active constituent. The fact that unique spectra are obtained allows identification of the drug while the lack of sample preparation and short signal accumulation times mean that the entire test can be carried out in <1 min.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Wiley
Copyright: © 2007 American Academy of Forensic Sciences
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