Dear Deputy Minister,
As the world population is increasing at an exponential rate, five percent of the world's total
population over the age of 15 is using illicit drugs. Also several hundred thousands of drug intoxications are
reported each year in the western world alone. As a part of the forensic scientists and law enforcement team,
we require screening methods used in forensic intoxication cases to be highly sensitive and fast. It is in my
firm belief that the use of advanced modern techniques for drug identification such as a mass spectrometer
would be invaluable to our laboratory.
A Mass Spectrometer is a sophisticated instrument that can not only separate chemical components
from each other, but can also identify what each component is. A small sample of the drug to be tested is
dissolved, purified and vaporized and passed through the mass spectrometer where it is broken into fragments
which are specific to each compound. The Spectra obtained from these fragments can be compared to a
known standard from a library which enables the identification of the product. Conventional methods for
drug analysis for forensic technology require multiple assays and repeated analysis on individual samples,
which can be expensive, time consuming and sometimes impossible since the amount of sample is very
limited from the crime scene. However, with the aid of a mass spectrometer, the whole process can be
achieved in very little time with highly accurate data. For example, with a mass spectrometer, analysis of 9
opiates and 10 benzodiazepines can be achieved in less than 6 minutes while the traditional methods could
take a few days to process the data which is a waste of time, money and manpower.
Consider an arson crime scene investigation where the determination of source of fire is important.
One factor that determines if the fire was intentionally set is involved with the use of accelerant, an agent
which ignites or enhances th