Detection and classification of fentanyl and its precursors by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy.Analyst. 2020 May 07; 145(9):3440-3446.A
Fentanyl and its analogs have been at the center of the opioid epidemic currently wreaking havoc in the United States. One major element in the opioid crisis is the growing number of clandestine fentanyl labs being reported by enforcement agencies. The development of new analytical methods for detecting and identifying fentanyl and its congeners is among the useful tools in our goal to limit the use of this dangerous family of narcotics. Herein we describe an analytical technique using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) and a microfluidic device, for detecting fentanyl and two of its chemical precursors, despropionylfentanyl (4ANPP) and N-phenethyl-4-piperidinone (NPP). The vibrational spectra of this family of analytes are very similar, making them difficult to distinguish by traditional means. In addition to taking advantage of the sensitivity provided by SERS, we developed a chemometric approach utilizing a hierarchical partial least squares-discriminant analysis algorithm that allowed us to distinguish spectra that possess many similar features.