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Rapid Determination of the ‘Legal Highs’ 4-MMC and 4-MEC by Spectroelectrochemistry: Simultaneous Cyclic Voltammetry and In Situ Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy

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Centro de Investigación en Electroquímica y Energía Química (CELEQ), Universidad de Costa Rica, San José 11501-2060, Costa Rica
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Escuela de Química, Universidad de Costa Rica, San José 11501-2060, Costa Rica
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Department of Forensic and Investigative Science, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
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Departamento de Química, Universidad de Burgos, Pza. Misael Bañuelos s/n, E-09001 Burgos, Spain
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Centro de Investigación en Ciencias e Ingeniería de Materiales (CICIMA), Universidad de Costa Rica, San José 11501-2060, Costa Rica
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Anna Chiara De Luca
Sensors 2022, 22(1), 295; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22010295
Received: 24 November 2021 / Revised: 18 December 2021 / Accepted: 27 December 2021 / Published: 31 December 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Chemical Sensors)
The synthetic cathinones mephedrone (4-MMC) and 4-methylethcathinone (4-MEC) are two designer drugs that represent the rise and fall effect of this drug category within the stimulants market and are still available in several countries around the world. As a result, the qualitative and quantitative determination of ‘legal highs’, and their mixtures, are of great interest. This work explores for the first time the spectroelectrochemical response of these substances by coupling cyclic voltammetry (CV) with Raman spectroscopy in a portable instrument. It was found that the stimulants exhibit a voltammetric response on a gold screen-printed electrode while the surface is simultaneously electro-activated to achieve a periodic surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) substrate with high reproducibility. The proposed method enables a rapid and reliable determination in which both substances can be selectively analyzed through the oxidation waves of the molecules and the characteristic bands of the electrochemical SERS (EC-SERS) spectra. The feasibility and applicability of the method were assessed in simulated seized drug samples and spiked synthetic urine. This time-resolved spectroelectrochemical technique provides a cost-effective and user-friendly tool for onsite screening of synthetic stimulants in matrices with low concentration analytes for forensic applications. View Full-Text
Keywords: spectroelectrochemistry; synthetic cathinones; Raman SERS; 4-MMC; 4-MEC spectroelectrochemistry; synthetic cathinones; Raman SERS; 4-MMC; 4-MEC
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MDPI and ACS Style

González-Hernández, J.; Ott, C.E.; Arcos-Martínez, M.J.; Colina, Á.; Heras, A.; Alvarado-Gámez, A.L.; Urcuyo, R.; Arroyo-Mora, L.E. Rapid Determination of the ‘Legal Highs’ 4-MMC and 4-MEC by Spectroelectrochemistry: Simultaneous Cyclic Voltammetry and In Situ Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy. Sensors 2022, 22, 295. https://doi.org/10.3390/s22010295

AMA Style

González-Hernández J, Ott CE, Arcos-Martínez MJ, Colina Á, Heras A, Alvarado-Gámez AL, Urcuyo R, Arroyo-Mora LE. Rapid Determination of the ‘Legal Highs’ 4-MMC and 4-MEC by Spectroelectrochemistry: Simultaneous Cyclic Voltammetry and In Situ Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy. Sensors. 2022; 22(1):295. https://doi.org/10.3390/s22010295

Chicago/Turabian Style

González-Hernández, Jerson, Colby E. Ott, María J. Arcos-Martínez, Álvaro Colina, Aránzazu Heras, Ana L. Alvarado-Gámez, Roberto Urcuyo, and Luis E. Arroyo-Mora. 2022. "Rapid Determination of the ‘Legal Highs’ 4-MMC and 4-MEC by Spectroelectrochemistry: Simultaneous Cyclic Voltammetry and In Situ Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy" Sensors 22, no. 1: 295. https://doi.org/10.3390/s22010295

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