Raman Spectroscopy of Methamphetamines and Designer Drugs known as “Bath Salts”

Darby Nelson, Hamline University


There has been recent increase in the use of synthetic cathinones, known as “bath salts”, a class of isomers that produce a similar “high” to that of amphetamines. The abundance of isomers presents a challenge for law enforcement and highlight the need for spectral databases to identify a specific isomer present in evidence. In this study, Raman and surface enhanced Raman (SERS) spectra were collected for four different drugs: methamphetamine, 2-fluoromethamphetamine, 4-fluoromethamphetamine, and buphedrone. In all four drugs, bands were observed at 1600 cm-1 (8a) and 1030 cm-1 (18b) correctly, indicating they are all part of the same drug class. The synthetic cathinone, buphedrone, could be differentiated from the amphetamines by the present of a CO stretching mode at 1679 cm-1. SERS results showed little enhancement but did indicate each drug had a vertical orientation on the surface of the silver nanoparticles.