Scientist Creates Chemical Sensors That Can Catch Drug-drivers

Scientist at the University of Oxford’s chemistry department have discovered an electrochemical sensors that can be used to detect the presence of drugs in saliva samples – or even measure how hot chillies are.

According to an eminent scholar from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa, Professor Kenneth Ozoemena, He said “An exciting aspect of the electrochemical sensors being developed by Richard Compton’s group is the ability to make them as hand-held devices. This makes them very useful for point-of-need applications such as in clinics and road-side detection, and they are easily operated by non-technical personnel”

chemicalThere has been no accurate method of testing for the presence of drugs in a person’s system at the roadside and this has led to the widespread problem of drug-driving. But chemists at the University of Oxford have now developed a test that could help do the magic.

The research group which is led by Professor Richard Compton has created a device which uses electrochemical processes to detect the presence of drugs. The method requires only a sample of saliva from the person and placed in the device. The drug present in the sample reacts with the coating on the sensor, providing a measurable current proportional to the concentration of drug present in a detector that is fast and reliable.

The detector which is quick, easy to use and incredibly reliable helps. These factors combined helped to secure the device’s place as the forerunner amongst its competitors in a recent study by the UK Home Office. That makes it a likely choice for use by the police in the near future.

In the meantime, the scientists have developed sensors capable of detecting cannabis from just a 3mm diameter dot of saliva. Plans to extend the technology with a sensor capable of detecting amphetamines are already in the pipeline. Currently, OxTox which is a spin out company have six patents at various stages of this application. In addition to this the team have also produced a sensor that is capable of measuring how hot chillies are.

According to Compton “Molecules of capsaicin, the compound that gives chillies their heat, stick to a sensor covered in carbon nanotubes. The more that stick, the stronger the signal, and the hotter the chilli”

The technology Funded by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, has so far received a positive reaction throughout the food industry, and even motivating the group to devise a similar sensor to measure the strength of garlic.

Source: University of Oxford Impacts