Role of five synthetic reaction conditions on the stable isotopic composition of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine

Hilary A. S. Buchanan, Niamh Nic Daéid (Lead / Corresponding author), William J. Kerr, James F. Carter, Jenny C. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The identification of links between seizures of illicit 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or "ecstasy") has been a global target of law enforcement agencies in recent years. Previous work has shown that, when the reaction conditions are carefully repeated from batch to batch, stable isotope ratios allow the discrimination of MDMA-HCl batches according to synthetic route used for manufacture. In this study, the effects of altering five reaction conditions relating to the Pt/H reductive amination synthesis were, for the first time, systematically investigated using a two level, five factor factorial design. Results indicate that the dH values of MDMA-HCl are affected by the length of imine stir time, and the dN values are affected by the degree of excess methylamine employed. Furthermore, the dC and dO values have been shown to be affected by the efficiency of the reaction, despite the similarity in carbon and oxygen composition of the starting material and product molecules. In addition to being of theoretical importance in this field of analytical science overall, this work is essential in order to more fully contextualize the interpretation of IRMS data which may be used as potential forensic evidence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5484-5489
Number of pages6
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2010


  • isotopic composition
  • analytical chemistry


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