“Currently, there is a great demand for on-site drug testing. The high-performance chip we designed was able to detect cocaine within minutes in our experiments.”
~ Dr. Qiaoqiang Gan, PhD, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, University at Buffalo
A new weapon in the fight against drug trafficking and abuse may be on the horizon.
In early May 2018, a team of researchers announced that they had developed a high-performance chemical-sensing “metasurface” chip that can detect the presence of cocaine. This is important, because this development brings the possibility of portable on-site drug testing devices one step closer to reality.
How the Chip Works
The metasurface chip works by analyzing patterns made by the interaction of light particles and chemical molecules. Every substance has its own individually-distinguishable and unique pattern, or “signature”.
This is important, because while these first tests focused on cocaine, the implications are clear – the next step will be to install the chip in a basic portable testing device. If that step is successful, then the detection testing will be expanded to include other substances – opioids or marijuana, for example.
“In the future, we are hoping to also use this technology to detect other drugs, including marijuana. The widening legalization of marijuana raises a lot of societal issues, including the need for a system to quickly test drivers for drug use,” adds Dr. Gan.
Cost-Effectiveness Is an Unexpected Bonus
And for perennially cash-strapped law enforcement agencies, the best news of all may be how affordable the drug-citizenship really is. Dr. Gan says, “It can be produced using raw materials that cost around 10 cents, and the fabrication techniques we used are also low-cost.”
It is even durable – the chip performed well after more than a year in storage.
What Does All This Mean?
Law enforcement agencies have long hoped for a portable device that could test for drugs on-site, similar to an alcohol breathalyzer. With this new chip, their wish may soon be granted.
You can protect yourself from DUI and other drug-related charges by getting help for your addiction before it gets to that point. If you live in Southern California and need help for an alcohol or drug problem, Lasting Recovery outpatient rehab in San Diego is your most-trusted resource.
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