WiSys Technologies

Colorimetric Presumptive Illicit Drug Detection

UW-Platteville researchers have developed a novel and rapid means of detecting multiple classes of illicit drugs, including synthetic cathinones, cannabinoids and cocaine.

WiSys Technology Number: T130020US03
Patent Number: 14,329,714
Patent Filed: July 11, 2014 (PDF)
Patent Pending
Stage of Development:

Prototype tests developed and tested in collaboration with crime laboratory.


For decades, color tests have provided criminalists an inexpensive, efficient way to determine if suspected controlled substances found in the field require further investigation. With over 200 controlled substances in Wisconsin, law enforcement relies on the use of rapid color tests to act as a preliminary screening tool when encountering a suspected illicit drug. Positive preliminary tests further require a series of confirmatory testing to determine the illicit drug present for subsequent legal proceedings. Many on-site color tests are currently used to detect the presence of active ingredients within controlled substances including cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. However, there is a need to develop a preliminary color test to detect the presence of existing scheduled compounds including cocaine along with newer drugs such as synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones (aka bath salts).


Researchers at the University of Wisconsin - Platteville have developed a rapid, inexpensive color test for the presumptive identification of multiple classes of controlled substances such as opiates, cannabinoids, and synthetic cathinones.

The novel aqueous reagent test can be delivered in industry accepted plastic test pouch containing an ampoule of chemical reagents necessary for preliminary testing of controlled substances. Multiple implementations of the test reagents are possible in order to tailor the test to specific target compounds.

This presumptive illicit drug detection technology is exceptional due to its high specificity and accuracy when testing for both well documented and emergent drug species.


  • Rapidly detect the presence of illicit drugs for field officers seeking probable cause related to potential controlled substances


  • Uses color test technology to easily and quickly identify the presence of controlled substances
  • Provides testing for illicit drugs that are more readily available and currently do not have indicative, color tests developed
UW-Platteville UW-Platteville
Charles Cornett
Professor of Chemistry
Joseph Wu
Assistant Professor of Chemistry