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Microcrystal Tests for Illicit Drugs Group 1 (1726V) Online

This two-day course will be conducted live via Zoom. For more details email

“The ability to see from the perspective as if we were looking through the microscope was very helpful. It helped to see what we are actually going to look for when doing analysis in our own labs.” — N.S.

“I appreciated some of the tips and helpful techniques that I was able to observe in the on-line course that I can take back into the laboratory and implement.” — T.S.

“The course provides an excellent basis for microchemical testing of illicit drugs, which I use on about 95% of my cases.” — M.B.

“I became more confident in performing tests and designing training modules. These microcrystal tests will help reduce our backlog and turnaround time.” — A.H.


Course schedule: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. both days (Central Time, U.S. and Canada). There will be a one-hour break for lunch and several short breaks throughout the day.

This course teaches basic and advanced microscopical techniques, including microcrystal tests from McCrone Research Institute’s publication, A Modern Compendium of Microcrystal Tests for Illicit Drugs and Diverted Pharmaceuticals. It will emphasize the methods used in polarized light microscopy and optical crystallography, allowing the microscopist to recognize and identify specific microcrystals formed in the presence of suspected drugs.

This online course will focus specifically on microcrystal tests for BZP, clonazepam, cocaine, diazepam, hydromorphone, MDMA, methadone, and PCP. Practical applications, pros and cons of microcrystal tests, interferences, limits of detection, and sensitivity will be illustrated. Techniques of small particle manipulation will also comprise a small component of this course.

Prerequisite: Students are required to be employed as a microscopist or trace/physical evidence analyst, or hold a directly related position in a forensic crime laboratory.

Day 1
• Introduction
• Review of Köhler illumination, optical crystallography, crossed-polar techniques, principles of microcrystal analyses, use of microcrystal reference texts, and reagent formulation shorthand
• Small particle handling
• Analysis of cocaine, including common adulterants and excipients

Day 2
• Analysis of BZP, hydromorphone, MDMA, methadone
• Analysis of clonazepam, diazepam and PCP