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Forensic electrochemistry: developing electrochemical sensors for the detection of illicit compounds

Smith, Jamie P (2015) Forensic electrochemistry: developing electrochemical sensors for the detection of illicit compounds. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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The following thesis reports the development of novel electrochemical protocols to further expand the niche research area of Forensic Electrochemistry. 0 introduces the key fundamental concepts within electrochemistry detailing why it is a significant analytical tool. Also described within this chapter are prior examples of electrochemistry used within in a forensic environment to further justify the use of such techniques in this work setting a solid foundation for the development of electrochemical sensors for previously un-detected (electrochemically) materials. Chapter 2 focuses on the growing epidemic of “Legal Highs” formally known as “Novel (New) Psychoactive Substances” (NPSs) that, at the time of this research is a major concern for drug authorities. Highlighted within is the multitude of existing techniques to analyse NPSs yet unable to simultaneous detect in-the-field with great sensitivity. Chapter 3 provides a summation of the materials employed in this research in addition to the experimental procedures. Furthermore, a brief synopsis of the screen-printing methodology is provided in order to deliver further understanding of the novel electrochemical sensors that are used throughout the thesis. Chapter 4 explores the use of screen-printed electrodes) as a novel electrochemical sensor for illicit compounds; with a particular focus on the NPS mephedrone (4-MMC; MKat; the most commonly abused NPS). The common ‘date-rape’ drug Rohypnol® (flunitrazepam) is also detected using screen-printed electrodes for the first time. The concept of screen-printed electrodes as a novel detector for illicit materials is expanded within Chapter 5 exploring different carbon materials utility as a sensor as well as the avant-garde field of study “Regal Electrochemistry” which utilises British Currency (GBP) to successfully quantify 4-MMC. Finally, Chapter 6 provides a summary and conclusion of the presented work highlighting the societal impact of such research whilst also posturing future work to ensure the field of Forensic Electrochemistry continues to grow.

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