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Research and Development of Microcrystal Tests for Illicit Drugs and Diverted Pharmaceuticals

Through a cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Justice, McCrone Research Institute has compiled a comprehensive compendium of microcrystal tests, which had previously been developed for illicit drugs and diverted pharmaceuticals, by determining, locating, and compiling analytical data and literature material from the numerous sources (many of which are out of print or difficult to locate) spanning past decades. Techniques were also be developed, where necessary, for drugs within non-traditional delivery mechanisms. All procedures were vetted and appraised by McCrone Research Institute research microscopists, together with practicing forensic scientists in other collaborative laboratories.

The resulting electronic compendium includes recommended protocols and morphologies of crystals (including photomicrographs), infrared spectra of microcrystals, and potential interferences. But most importantly, the compendium also provides optical and crystallographic properties of the resultant microcrystals. This optical data is absent in many earlier references, which is unfortunate because microcrystals of a given substance are unique if optical properties, and not only morphology, are considered. Included with this optical data is a refinement of the application of many microcrystal tests in order to strengthen their use within the criminal justice system. McCrone’s microcrystal compendium is available to all forensic scientists for free access from selected websites.

This project was supported by Award No. 2011-DN-BX-K248, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of McCrone Research Institute and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.