Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



Advisor/Committee Chair

Lamyaa Almehmadi, M.A.

Committee Member

Igor Lednev, Ph.D.


The detection of drugs of abuse using Raman spectroscopy is of particular interest to forensic researchers at the moment. Raman spectroscopy is highly specific, fast, non-destructive, and can be adapted for in-situ measurements, making it the ideal forensic technique. Researchers working under the guidance of Doctor Igor Lednev have been able to use UV resonance Raman spectroscopy to detect cocaine in oral fluid without the need for sample pretreatment. They were however unable to detect the cocaine at forensically relevant levels. To overcome this limitation, surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) was used in this proof of concept study for the detection of trace amounts of cocaine. Solutions of 1 mg/mL- 5 ng/mL, which are forensically relevant concentrations of this drug, were tested using homemade SERS substrates. Raman peak identification was performed as well as additional analysis using specialized statistical software. It was concluded that forensically relevant levels of cocaine could be detected using SERS. The future of this project is the detection of cocaine in saliva.