In Australia and increasingly worldwide, methamphetamine is one of the most commonly seized drugs analysed by forensic chemists. The current well-established GC/MS methods used to identify and quantify methamphetamine are lengthy, expensive processes, but often rapid analysis is requested by undercover police leading to an interest in developing this new analytical technique. Ninety six illicit drug seizures containing methamphetamine (0.1%-78.6%) were analysed using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy with an Attenuated Total Reflectance attachment and Chemometrics. Two Partial Least Squares models were developed, one using the principal Infrared Spectroscopy peaks of methamphetamine and the other a Hierarchical Partial Least Squares model. Both of these models were refined to choose the variables that were most closely associated with the methamphetamine % vector. Both of the models were excellent, with the principal peaks in the Partial Least Squares model having Root Mean Square Error of Prediction 3.8, R(2) 0.9779 and lower limit of quantification 7% methamphetamine. The Hierarchical Partial Least Squares model had lower limit of quantification 0.3% methamphetamine, Root Mean Square Error of Prediction 5.2 and R(2) 0.9637. Such models offer rapid and effective methods for screening illicit drug samples to determine the percentage of methamphetamine they contain.
The article is published online in the journal PLoS ONE and is free to access.