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Preliminary Investigation Into Tris(2,2'-bipyridyl) Ruthenium (III) as a Chemiluminescent Reagent for the Detection of 3,6-Diacetylmorphine (Heroin) on Surfaces

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 52 Issue: 5 Dated: September 2007 Pages: 1111-1114
Kent M. Agg B.Sc.; Neil W. Barnett D.Sc.; Simon W. Lewis Ph.D.; James R. Pearson Ph.D.
Date Published
September 2007
4 pages
This paper reports on preliminary studies regarding the utility of using tris(2,2'-bipyridyl) ruthenium (III) as a chemiluminescent spray reagent spot-test for heroin on surfaces, particularly polymer banknotes.
The two forms of the reagent (aqueous and anhydrous) yielded vastly different results. The aqueous reagent produced slow, low-intensity chemiluminescence; and the anhydrous reagent generated a fast, bright response in the presence of 3,6-diacetylmorphine (heroin). The disadvantage of the anhydrous reagent is the use of a flammable solvent sprayed as an aerosol, so no naked flame can be present when using this reagent. The aqueous reagent was selective for 3,6-diacetylmorphine over codeine, acetylcodeine, and noscapine, but 3-monoacetlymorphine also gave slow long-lasting chemiluminescence with the aqueous reagent. This should not be a problem, however, since 3-monoacetylmorphine is a byproduct in the synthesis of heroin. The chemiluminescence reaction was studied by using stopped-flow instrumentation in order to gain insight into the reaction kinetics of 3,6-diacetylmorphine and the tris(2,2'-bipyridyl) ruthenium (III) reagent in an aqueous and anhydrous environment, as well as in the presence of some heroin cutting agents. The reagent was dispensed as a spray over suspect articles. Several surfaces were examined, including polymer bank notes and the laboratory bench. 1 table, 2 figures, and 26 references