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Raman spectroscopy for forensic examination of beta-ketophenethylamine "legal highs": reference and seized samples of cathinone derivatives

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Samantha P. Stewart
  • Steven E. J. Bell
  • Nicholas C. Fletcher
  • Samira Bouazzaoui
  • Yen Cheng Ho
  • S. James Speers
  • K. Laota Peters
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>20/01/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Analytica Chimica Acta
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)1-6
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Raman spectra of a representative range of beta-ketophenethylamine (beta-KP), the rapidly growing family of cathinone-related "legal high" recreational drugs, have been recorded. These spectra showed characteristic changes that were associated with the pattern of substitution on the aromatic rings, for example, the compounds carrying substituents at the 4- position could be distinguished from 3,4-methylenedioxy "ecstasy" derivatives. They also showed small but detectable changes with differences in substitution on the ethylamine substituent. These features allowed the beta-KPs present in seized casework samples to be identified. The seized samples typically contained only small amounts of bulking agents, which meant that the band intensities of these components within averaged data were very small. In contrast, grid sampling normally gave at least some spectra which had a higher than average proportion of the bulking agent(s), which allowed them to also be identified. This study therefore demonstrates that Raman spectroscopy can be used both to provide a rapid, non-destructive technique for identification of this class of drugs in seized samples and to detect minor constituents, giving a composition profile which can be used for drugs intelligence work. Crown Copyright (C) 2011 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.