The Forensic and Analytical Science theme has four research laboratories supporting research in crime scene analysis, forensic biochemistry and forensic chemistry, analytical toxicology and synthesis of novel analogues and proteins.
Crime Scene Investigation research explores the identification of evidence from complex environmental samples and the use of nanoparticles for detection and characterisation of biological materials to make a step-change in the way forensic evidence is gathered, evaluated, and delivered to the Criminal Justice System (CJS). Research also explores the characterisation of explosives and ammunition (including improvised explosive devices (IEDs), gun-shot residue (GSR) and energetic materials (with associated implications of terrorism) and their detection in fingerprints
Analytical and Forensic Toxicology research involves the investigation of alternative matrices for drug screening and evidential analysis such as synthetic oral fluid, latent fingerprints, fingermarks, blood spots and hair. This work seeks to exploit the potential for increased ease of collection and the advantage of different temporal detection windows available in contrast to blood and urine. Innovative ways in which screening tests can be developed to better inform drug use trends are explored.
Synthesis and detection of novel reference materials and standards is undertaken. We have the capacity to develop compounds otherwise not commercially available such as emerging synthetic cannabinoids and their metabolites as well as radiolabelled synthetic cannabinoids for medical imaging. We also apply in-vitro metabolism assays to detect and identify NPS metabolites and well as to discover new biomarkers of drug abuse.
Our research addresses some of the global analytical challenges presented to governments, the police and justice departments as well as to educators and service providers. Staff have specialist knowledge in High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and Gas Chromatography (GC) - Mass Spectrometry (MS), LC-MS/MS, GC-Isotope-Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IR-MS) and GC-combustion (C)-IR-MS. These very sophisticated instruments detect trace concentrations of compounds in the nanogram (one billionth of a gram (10-9g)) to picogram (one trillionth of a gram (10-12g)) range.