Analytical Techniques

In order to identify and quantify the active compounds of a substance, we use different analytical techniques
Technical staff at a nightlife intervention preparing a sample for analysis.

Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC)


It can identify the active components of a very wide range of substances, differentiate between derivatives of the same group and detect the most common adulterants. The results obtained identify the active substances in a sample, but it is not possible to determine purity or concentration.

  • Qualitative technique.
  • Allows the identification of adulterations and frauds.
  • Does not differentiate between isomers of the same substance.
  • Reference compounds are needed for the identification of compounds.

Gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC-MS)


We perform a first analysis with this technique as a screening method, for the identification of the compound or compounds in the sample. It is also used to quantify main substances such as cocaine, speed, methamphetamine, tranquilizers, ketamine and its adulterants, as well as other substances.

  • Quantitative technique.
  • Allows the identification of NPS (New Psychoactive substances).
  • Allows quantification of most substances, even if adulterated.
  • Allows differentiation of positional isomers such as 4-MMC and 3-MMC by retention time with the exception of fluoroderivatives (2,3,4-FMA; 2,4-FA; 2,3,4-FEA).

Liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC/MS)


We use this technique mainly to analyze compounds that are heat sensitive or require precision and sensitivity such as LSD or fentanyl.

  • Qualitative and quantitative technique.
  • High precision and sensitivity for complex substances to be analyzed.
  • It does not differentiate between isomers and enantiomers of the same substance.

    Ultraviolet spectrophotometry (UV-Vis)


    Analytical technique used to quantify major substances, unadulterated. It allows the quantification of MDMA/Ecstasy, 4-MMC/Mephedrone, 3-MMC/Metaphedrone and 2-MMC. It is also used for substances such as 2C-B/Nexus, MDA or 6-APB.

    • Quantitative technique.
    • Used for substances that require more precise dose adjustment to achieve the desired effects and reduce risks.
    • Does not differentiate between isomers of the same substance.

      High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC-DAD)


      We use an HPLC connected to an ultraviolet Diode Array Detector (HPLC-DAD), mainly to quantify LSD.

      • It allows us to know the concentration of LSD in blotters and droplets.
      Six glass jars of different colours appear, two of which read "coca" and "pasti", the others "MDMA" and "Keta". These are the samples received and prepared for analysis.

      Liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (LC/MS) with chiral column (CQ)


      Very similar to LC/MS, but a chiral column capable of resolving racemic mixtures is used. It is especially useful for separating enantiomers, as this cannot be achieved with the other methods mentioned above.

      • Qualitative and quantitative technique.
      • It has the same advantages as LC/MS, but also allows the separation of enantiomers of the same substance.

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      Analytical Techniques