New laser vision method identifies capsule chemicals

Scientists have developed an effective laser based method to identify what chemical is in pharmaceutical capsules - without opening the capsules

Working with Pfizer Ltd, a leading pharmaceutical company, the researchers in the Lasers for Science Facility at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, succeeded in quantifying the presence of the active pharmaceutical ingredient in production line capsules to a relative error of 1 per cent. No other non-invasive method could reach the same level of accuracy.

The technique holds great potential for a range of process control applications in the pharmaceutical industry. The development stems from research into a novel Raman spectroscopy method, Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy, which is under development at STFC for a wide range of applications including the detection of explosives in non-metallic containers, the detection of counterfeit drugs through opaque packaging and the non-invasive diagnosis of bone disease and cancer.

The concepts, which are relatively simple to implement, were developed through experiments involving STFC's large scale facilities which provided crucial insight into photon transport processes.

Professor Pavel Matousek, the project leader commented: "I am delighted that the vibrant environment at STFC enables us to engage in world-leading science and to make effective use of new ideas and discoveries for the direct benefit of our society."

Image: The new method can identify the chemical make-up of pharamceutical capsules without opening them

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