A team of researchers in Italy have come up with a machine that is able to detect methamphetamine. More importantly, this machine can detect many different types of methamphetamine, not just one recipe. Law enforcement in the United States are anxious to employ this device in high traffic areas around the country to help combat the methamphetamine problem many states are fighting.

The machine works by identifying the main molecule in methamphetamine that is common no matter what recipe is used. When the machine detects the molecule it alerts the operator. Scientists and law enforcement agencies are hoping they can use this new invention to detect other designer drugs as well in the near future. These synthetic drugs pose a problem for authorities because creators of the compounds simply change one or two molecules in the structure to make the drug legal again and therefore harder for authorities to trace. By employing this machine, police all over the country would have a jump start on the creators of these harmful drugs.

Now that drug dealers are transporting methamphetamine in liquid form, the machine was developed to be able to detect the drug within water. This is key in locating drugs that are being smuggled from countries like Mexico into the United States because of the frequency that they are transported in liquid form.

The next challenge that the team of researchers will attempt to overcome is detecting methamphetamine in wastewater. This proves to be much more difficult task. Dermot Diamond, director of the National Centre for Sensor Research in Ireland, cautions that “detecting illicit drugs and their residues in wastewater is a very challenging proposition for a sensing device of the type they have produced. This is because the complexity of the same, and the range of potential interferents, goes way beyond what the authors have tested.”

Despite the challenging nature of detecting drugs like methamphetamine in wastewater, the team seems up to the task and will continue their research in that direction.