Unfortunately, recent media coverage has reported rising substance use among adults and teenagers. Tackling the problem of increased drug use is a problem for law enforcement officers as new drugs are being introduced in the market rapidly. For instance, Carfentanil, a drug that is a cousin to the compound Fentanyl, is 10,000 times stronger than Morphine and even a few crystals can become a deadly overdose. In order to save lives and determine legal charges, law enforcement officers need reliable devices that can detect the type of drug on the spot.
Researchers have been able to design a promising new tool that can detect small concentrations of drug powders all the while being cost-effective and portable. Post-doctoral scholars Christoffer Abrahamsson and Michael Fink explained the mechanism of Magneto-Archimedes levitation and how the device separates substances based on their densities. The MagLev device is thermos-sized and has two brick-like magnets above and below a clear container. Inside the clear container, a solution of a gadolinium chelate complex pushes foreign objects into layers of neat and easily identifiable clouds. Each of the substances to be tested floats at a height corresponding to its density.
Since new drugs are created from existing compounds regularly, researchers are working towards equipping MagLev to detect both rare and common types of drugs found around the globe. Currently, it has successfully tested separating up to seven different substances at a time in the same solution. MagLev would be greatly useful for police officers as it separates most compounds in about 25 minutes while testing at forensic labs may take up to a day or two. This will save the officers time and medical aid can be provided to patients who might have overdosed on a certain substance. In addition to that, the device is incredibly inexpensive costing from just $30 to $300 depending on what size of the magnet is used in the device.
This is very inexpensive in comparison to systems in forensic labs that cost thousands of dollars. Scientists say that though it would take some time to refine the system and introduce MagLev to law-enforcement officers and medics, it would be an incredibly useful tool to not only confiscate drugs but also help save precious lives.