U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Development of a Modern Compendium of Microcrystal Test for Illicit Drugs and Diverted Pharmaceuticals, Final Summary Overview

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2015
13 pages
This project compiled a comprehensive compendium of microcrystalline tests previously developed for the analysis of illicit drugs and diverted pharmaceuticals.

This was done by determining, locating, and compiling analytical data and literature reference material from numerous sources spanning decades, including many that are out-of-print or difficult to locate. Light microscopy and microcrystal tests have been used for over 100 years, but are not often regarded as a modern or ideal method; however, they are useful when the automated equipment is not available or when there is a need to check for the presence of one or several specific drugs. Microcrystal tests updated to include optical properties of resultant crystals and compiled in a modern compendium would improve an excellent confirmatory method that provides an added degree of confidence in the procedures. Such confirmation can boost a court's confidence in the evidence presented in drug cases. Although the main goal of this project was to compile the microcrystal tests into one convenient compendium, another objective was to use the polarized light microscope to acquire new data about these crystals after they were formed. Such information will assist in their identification and increase the confidence of the analyst in declaring a positive versus a negative result. Combining the sensitivity and speed of microcrystalline tests with the new optical properties determined for each microcrystaline precipitate, along with the infrared spectra collected for each test's precipitate, equips analysts with a powerful set of data for drug identification. Having all of this data available in one place in the compendium will save forensic scientists time. A table lists the drugs included in the project.

Date Published: October 1, 2015