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Development of a method for the detection of GHB and other drugs using a handheld Raman Spectroscopy device

O'Connor, Lauren


Lauren O'Connor


The main piece of legislation which addresses illicit drugs in the UK is the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The Act was designed to prevent the use of drugs which are 'capable of having harmful effects sufficient to constitute a social problem'.
The Road Traffic Act 1988 is the main piece of legislation which covers drink and drug driving offences in the UK.
Two positive test results from scientifically different methods are required to prove impairment. The first is a Field Impairment Test (FIT test) which is subjective. The FIT is a roadside test assessing behaviour, concept of time and demeanour. This provides police officers an indication of whether the individual is impaired through drink or drugs. There is currently no other accepted roadside test to determine if motorists are driving under the influence of drugs.
Raman Spectroscopy is a type of vibrational spectroscopy used to determine information on chemical structure and the physical form of a substance by focussing a laser on the sample; it is able to provide a chemical fingerprint of illicit drugs. Surfaced Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) uses Nano scale metal structures to enhance the Raman effect making it six times or more sensitive than Raman Spectroscopy.
This study developed a method of using a TruScan Raman handheld device to screen for drugs of abuse in mixtures, alcohol and oral fluid. It was found that the TruScan device was not effective in detecting drugs in alcohol or mixtures but it was able to detect KGHB in oral fluid down to a 30% v/v concentration.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date May 9, 2012
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Drug misuse; illicit drugs; Raman Spectroscopy; chemical structures; surface enhanced; TruScan Raman;
Public URL
Contract Date May 9, 2012
Award Date May 9, 2012


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