Boston University and Bodkin Design Use HSI for Seized Drug Analysis

Boston University and Bodkin Design Use HSI for Seized Drug Analysis

photo leaf with pillsBodkin Design & Engineering, LLC is collaborating with Sabra Botch-Jones at Boston University School of Medicine to determine the effectiveness of their small, portable hyperspectral imager for drug analysis in field settings.

Laboratory methods for seized drug analysis are time consuming, technically challenging, and cost prohibitive, making them unsuitable for field applications. Current field testing commonly lacks specificity and there is a chance of false positives. Field personnel, researchers, and scientists are searching for a real time method that yields information about potentially harmful substances, as well as guidance to prioritize and focus subsequent lab analysis.

Having an instrument that is more selective and yields more specific information than a typical field test is helpful, even if initial data does not allow a field agent to see the entire picture. Particularly, there is interest in relating hyperspectral analysis to more traditional field testing. Hyperspectral imaging is especially helpful for real time analysis in situ, with no sample preparation, and minimal steps.

Sabra Both-Jones photo

Professor Sabra Botch-Jones

In the field, this instrument could determine how forensic experts handle evidence. The main question is aimed at whether a particular substance is illicit and whether the sample should be collected for further testing; however, collection techniques may vary depending on the type of illicit material found.  Professor Botch-Jones states, “If I can obtain a hyperspectral reading, it would provide me with a better understanding of the type of substance we are dealing with. As is the case with synthetic opioids, I would know that additional precautions were needed in handling that substance.”

First responders are now undergoing NarcanTM training in case of accidental exposure to a potent synthetic opioid. The use of hyperspectral imaging could help prevent many accidental exposures from happening in the first place. Sabra continued, “Not only will these results help us in the field, but having this information affects downstream analysis as well. In the lab, one would take extra precautions processing a synthetic opioid sample to prevent inhalation or dermal exposure”.

Preliminary results will be presented by Ani Kazaryan at the poster session of the Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists 43rd annual meeting November 7-10, 2017. For more information about the meeting, visit

For more information, please contact Bodkin Design & Engineering at

About Bodkin Design & Engineering

Bodkin Design and Engineering, LLC has been providing hyperspectral imaging equipment as well as test and R&D services since 2003. Headquartered in Newton, Massachusetts, the company serves the international OEM, commercial, military, and research communities. Specializing in electro-optic and mechanical systems, BD&E has overseen the successful introduction of products in a wide range of markets from calibration equipment for infrared imaging (, to a patented line of video rate hyperspectral imagers ( To learn more, visit us at