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NMR in Forensic Analysis

Customs and border control authorities are facing unprecedented challenges due to fraudulent activity across several sectors, ranging from narcotics, doping agents, global waste trade, chemical warfare agents and even explosives manufacturing.

In the field of forensics, the chemical identification of unknown substances is an emerging challenge. Narcotics and other drugs are often unidentified, new psychoactive substances that require sophisticated analytical techniques such as NMR for identification.

The police, customs authorities, governmental and toxicology laboratories involved in forensic analysis require state-of-the-art scientific instruments for the unambiguous detection of suspicious materials that have been seized.

Convenient, Benchtop Tool for Accurate NMR Forensic Analysis

The Fourier CrimeLab serves as a compact, cost-efficient, accessible and everyday tool for quickly obtaining the most accurate NMR data in forensics applications. This benchtop spectrometer can easily be installed in the fume hood or on the bench, without needing any additional infrastructure, making it easy to maintain and reducing ownership costs.

With straightforward operation and intuitive software, Fourier CrimeLab enables scientists to get the definitive answers NMR provides, even if they are not NMR experts.

Determining the True Nature of Suspicious Substances

The ever-increasing emergence of new psychoactive substances (around 100 per year) has been identified as a key issue by forensic specialists.

These substances are uncontrolled, vary in dose and often have an unknown chemical structure. They require automated, unambiguous identification and quantification by techniques that are more sophisticated than commonly applied methods. Without this, the data cannot be used in court as conclusive evidence for legal proceedings. Only NMR is capable of discriminating all isomers unambiguously without the use of compound specific reference substances.

As the leading developer of analytical and diagnostic NMR solutions, Bruker serves many clients working in the police, customs, federal, state and border control laboratories across more than 40 countries, providing more than 80 high-performance NMR systems.

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AV400 nanobay

Bruker’s portfolio includes two top-quality NMR instruments for application in forensics: the Fourier CrimeLab Benchtop NMR Spectrometer and the AVANCE NEO high-resolution spectrometer.

Distributed Laboratory Topology

A combination of Bruker’s High-resolution Avance NEO NMR spectrometers at central scientific centers and its Fourier CrimeLab benchtop NMR spectrometers at local governmental satellite laboratories introduces a new multi-level topology in the field of forensic analysis.

Bruker’s expert NMR software package TopSpin that accompanies both instrument lines frees NMR operators up to support any kind of analysis, even remotely. Additionally, novice NMR users can use customizable pre-defined data acquisition choices in the GoScan software on the Fourier CrimeLab.

This multi-level topology with nationally or internationally interlinked laboratories and harmonized methodologies provides a new platform for coherent data generation, reduced time-to-results and enhanced training synergies.

Distributed Laboratory Topology

Determining the True Nature of Suspicious Substances

The Fourier CrimeLab can be used to obtain structural information about new psychoactive substances that determines the true nature of seized materials and generates reliable, robust evidence that can be used for legal proceedings. This is vital, as commonly used methods cannot identify and quantify unknown substances without compound specific reference standards available.

Dedicated software packages included within the Fourier CrimeLab can be used to build up and maintain a database on suspicious substances that can be shared and accessed for future identification.

In the fight against narcotics trafficking, Bruker fosters the global networking of law enforcement agencies and the international networks and programs that support using NMR solutions to identify and quantify illicit drugs. In addition to in-house libraries, forensic drug laboratories can take advantage of the NPS Data Hub - an independent, non-commercial narcotics data sharing platform for law enforcement authorities.

Determining the True Nature of Suspicious Substances

 

This interactive data hub is being developed by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in collaboration with forensic laboratory partners at the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany (Bundeskriminalamt; BKA) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).