Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Kenneth G. Furton

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Yong Cai

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Stewart D'Alessio

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Anthony DeCaprio

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Jeffrey Joens

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Illicit substances, Training aids, Canine, Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), Solid Phase Micro-extraction (SPME)

Date of Defense



The exploitation of illicit substances, such as drugs and explosives, is on the rise. Special attention must therefore be considered to reduce the transportation and storage of these illicit substances by improving the capability of detection, even when hidden from view. Although analytical methods of detection for both drugs and explosives have improved over time, biological detectors, such as canines, are still commonly used. In comparison to humans, these canines have a larger number of olfactory receptors and a greater olfactory epithelium surface area, providing them with a more enhanced olfaction than that of humans.

The premise for the detection of illicit drugs and explosives is based on the premise that these substances though hidden, will emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs are not often the parent drug or explosive, they are essentially a chemical associated with the source and provide a reliable indication of the illicit substance. Previous successful research has been conducted on the identification of the active odors present in the headspace of cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA but instead for marijuana and heroin there have been minimum success. Thus, in the present research a method using headspace solid-phase microextraction coupled to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC-MS) was optimized to identify the VOCs makeup of heroin and marijuana to further identify the active odor compound(s) responsible for the alert response of biological detectors (canines). A mixture of acetic acid and acetylsalicylic acid was identified as target odor mimic for heroin by certified detector canines, while a mixture of limonene and caryophyllene was recognized as odor mimic for marijuana by conducting ORTs. The training aids developed successfully mimic the scent of the actual illicit substance and can be used to improve the capabilities of both drug and explosive detection canines.

Additionally, as growing threat of improvised explosives has created a worldwide concern and emphasized the requirement of a greater spectra of canine training aids that covers the complete range of explosives available, a new approach for the creation of training aids for IEDs have been evaluated. The use of a dynamic collection system have proved to be an option to develop fast and reliable canine training aids for IEDs.





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