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Vapor phase detection of a narcotic using surface acoustic wave immunoassay sensors

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3 Author(s)
D. D. Stubbs ; Sch. of Chem. & Biochem., Georgia Inst. of Technol., Atlanta, GA, USA ; Sang-Hun Lee ; W. D. Hunt

Currently, the narcotic sniffing dog remains the most accurate, reliable, and widely used sensing technology in the war on drugs. However, recent studies done at the Institute for Biological Detection Systems at Auburn University, Auburn, AL, have shown that in the presence of extraneous odors (nontarget odors), these animals show a higher propensity for so-called false alarms. For this reason, there have been an increasing demand for a portable, highly specific vapor-sensing device capable of distinguishing a target vapor signature in a complex odor. In this paper, we present the results of a series of experiments demonstrating real-time vapor phase detection of cocaine molecules. A distinctive response or signature was observed under laboratory conditions, where the cocaine vapors were presented using an INEL vapor generator and under "field" conditions facilitated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab. For these experiments, the sensor component was an ST-X quartz resonator with a center frequency of approximately 250-MHz. Anti-benzoylecgonine (anti-BZE) antibodies are attached to the electrodes on the device surface via a protein-A cross linker. We observed a large transient frequency shift accompanied by baseline shift with the anti-BZE coated sensor. After repeated experiments and the use of numerous controls, we believe that we have achieved real-time molecular recognition of cocaine molecules.

Published in:

IEEE Sensors Journal  (Volume:5 ,  Issue: 3 )