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The detection of clandestine methamphetamine laboratories using semiconducting metal oxide gas sensors

21 March 2013


David Pugh

Methamphetamine is a psychoactive amphetamine, widely sold illegally as ‘crystal meth’ in the USA, Canada and Europe.  The drug is synthesized using one of  three, relatively simple methods, meaning that marketable quantities of the compound can be produced using little equipment or knowledge of synthetic organic chemistry. This has lead to methamphetamine laboratories being formed in rented accommodation, hotels, cars, mobile homes, schools and garden sheds. Despite the significant danger posed by these laboratories to the general population, the environment, and local infrastructure, clandestine laboratories are rarely discovered through proactive detection, but are more commonly discovered accidentally or as the result of a fire or explosion. This study aims to produce an array of SMO gas sensors, known as electronic noses, to detect 8 gases commonly found in the synthesis of methamphetamine.  This array of gas sensors could be used to produce a covert device for use in hotel rooms, rented accommodation and self-storage units to detect the illegal production of methamphetamine.