The author interviews Dr. Richard Blair about his research, which aims to develop and commercialize a 3D-printed handheld spectrometer that can be used with a smartphone camera to acquire spectral data of suspected substances of abuse and then compare the data to spectra in a cloud-based database.
After answering a question about the features of current methods for field detection of substances of abuse, Dr. Blair responds to a question about what makes the d10 mental cluster compounds ideal for controlled substance testing applications. This is followed with his response to a question regarding what classes of substances he has incorporated into his research thus far. He notes that his research has thus far screened a wide array of amines and common adulterants. In addition, Dr. Blair indicates that Wayne Moorehead at the Orange County Crime Lab (California) has looked at multiple substance of abuse that either yielded no fluorescence or a unique color. Dr. Blair states that this test is the only presumptive method that can distinguish between cocaine and PCP. Other questions asked of Dr. Blair pertain to the effect on the Blair technique of the presence of common cutting agents, such as flour or aspartame; the origin of the idea of a pocket spectrometer that can be used with a smartphone camera; how an investigator would use the device in a crime scene or field scenario; and whether crime scene investigators will be able to use this technology in the near future. Regarding the last issue, Dr. Blair states that the indicators are currently usable. They have a low technology level and require minimal investment for use. The cell phone spectrometer should be ready for marketing in a year.
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