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Quantification of mixtures of analogues of illicit substances by benchtop NMR spectroscopy.


This paper investigates the possibility of using benchtop NMR spectroscopy for quantification of illicit drugs (methamphetamine) in binary and ternary mixtures with impurities and cutting agents (N-isopropylbenzylamine, phenethylamine and dimethylsulfone). To avoid handling regulated substances, methamphetamine in our experiments is substituted with amino-2-propanol, which has similar functional groups and chemical structure to methamphetamine and hence a related NMR spectrum. Binary and ternary mixtures at concentrations from 30 mmol/L up to 500 mmol/L for each of these species were measured using a 60 MHz benchtop spectrometer. The spectra were analysed using both integration and a model-based algorithm that relies on a full quantum mechanical description of the studied spin systems. Both techniques were able to quantify the composition of the mixtures. The root mean squared error in the measured concentration using the model-based algorithm was 10 mmol/L, whereas the error using integration was typically 20 mmol/L. Thus, we conclude benchtop NMR is viable for quantitative measurements of mixtures of illicit substances, particularly when coupled with a quantum mechanical model for the analysis.

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