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Microscopy of Illicit Drugs and Excipients (1726)


Course schedule: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday – Thursday, and 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Friday.

The course emphasizes the techniques used in polarized light microscopy and optical crystallography to characterize and identify a wide variety of adulterants, diluents, excipients, and extraneous material that may make up the bulk of an illicit drug sample.

The microscopical approach provides intelligence by linking cases through common origin, changes in production, tracking supply lines, and determining the nature of undercover operations. Microcrystal tests for drugs are also included as a minor element of this course, but the emphasis is on polarized light techniques. Proficiency in polarized light microscopy is assumed and necessary.

Prerequisite: course 1201 or equivalent.

Day 1
• Köhler illumination
• Microscope alignment review
• Crystal characterization with one polar
• Micrometry
• Crystal morphology
• Polymorphism and isomorphism

Day 2
• Microchemistry
• Crystal optics
• Characterization of crystals by refractive index
• Isotropic, uniaxial and biaxial crystals
• Dispersion staining
• Interrelationship of crystal optics and morphology

Day 3
• Crystal rolling
• Optical sectioning
• Characterization of crystals with crossed polars (retardation, birefringence, extinction, optic sign, sign of elongation, interference figures)

Day 4
• Fusion methods as a means of recrystallizing and characterizing crystals
• Identification of compounds with emphasis on crystal morphology and optical properties
• Particle handling and preparation
• Micromanipulation
• Integration of microscopical techniques
• Study of “unknowns”
• Dispersion staining
• Microcrystal tests

Day 5
Continued study of “unknowns”