Frequently Asked Questions

Centice has quickly become the law enforcement’s “go to” producer of products for the identification of illicit substances.  All of Centice products quickly and accurately identifies illicit narcotics, cutting agents street mixtures, precursors, and controlled prescription drugs at the crime scene.

Raman Spectroscopy and Drug Identification Tests

How do Centice products work?

All of Centice’s products use the science of Raman Spectroscopy. In Raman Spectroscopy, a laser is directed at a substance. The laser excites the molecules in the substance and emits energy or wavelengths of light that can be captured. The resulting data on the wavelengths represents the unique “signature” of the substance. This information can be displayed as a graph and can be matched to known graphs of drugs.

What can Centice products identify?

Centice offers two proprietary libraries that can be used for identifying prescription drugs or illicits and cutting agents:

  • • The Pharmaceutical Library identifies over 3,600 prescription drugs and can be used to identify tablets, capsules, broken, unmarked or crushed pills

  • • The Illicit Library identifies over 200 illicit substances, precursor chemicals, cutting agents, and most major synthetic drugs

  • Is the science of Raman Spectroscopy known to law enforcement?

    Yes. The DOJ and affiliated agencies are familiar with Raman Spectroscopy and consider it a valid science for confirmatory evidence analysis.

    How much of a sample is required for analysis?

    The laser spot size used for analysis is about 1 mm. As long as the sample placed in the center of the window can cover that area, it would be sufficient for analysis.

    How do Centice products differ from other Raman Spectrometers available to law enforcement?

    Centice products offer the most value for the price of any other portable Raman spectrometers on the market today.  Centice devices all use the patent-pending technology called Coded Aperture Raman Spectroscopy allows which for less costly lasers and no moving parts for light apertures. The technology provides greater reliability between sample measurements and greater consistency of data collection between systems. This is precisely why Centice devices are an acceptable system to use across jurisdictions with confidence that the same substances are being measured consistently.


    Why is this device better than a color test?

    Raman spectroscopy is shown to have higher discriminatory power than a color based tests. Color tests are subjective and the results must be hand-documented.  Raman has lower false positive rate but much higher false negative rate. Plus, the color tests are only applicable for the top drugs and cannot be used universally for all substances.


    What kind of substances can the Centice devices identify?

    Centice can identify most FDA approved pharmaceutical substance including controlled prescription drugs. It can also identify illicit substances and common precursor chemicals in solids and powder form. MFL-3000 can also identify liquid substances and some explosive materials as well.


    What happens when a new synthetic drug is released to the market?

    Centice operates an on-site DEA approved lab and has the ability to constantly source new drugs (including synthetics). We measure the spectral fingerprints for these drugs and update our library as they become available or prominent in the market with quarterly software updates.


    How do I get library updates to Centice products?

    All Centice devices can automatically pull down library updates from our server as they become available based on subscription status.  Connection to the Internet is required.


    Cocaine is not available in the field in pure form. It’s always cut with something. How does Centice deal with these cases?

    Centice will first try to find a pure match for the unknown substance. If it is unable to, then it will automatically run a mixture analysis algorithm where it tries to fit 4-5 ingredients that can make up the spectral fingerprint of the unknown substance. The mixture analysis results will indicate the presence of cocaine among other substances.


    Why do you have two separate fingerprint libraries?

    We keep the fingerprints of pharmaceutical and illicit substances in two separate databases. Illicit substances are most commonly available on the street as cuts or mixtures of multiple ingredients and precursor chemicals. We keep the illicits and precursors in one smaller database so that we can perform mixture analysis and identify the individual ingredients in it. If we merged all the 3600 pharmaceuticals into the illicits, then the mixture analysis would not be as accurate, so we recommend analyzing pharmaceuticals by clicking on the “Analyze Rx” button and illicits with the “Analyze illicits” button.


    Where do I find a list of illicit substances included in the library?

    The entire contents of the Centice Illicits library are included in the help section of the device. Just click on Help -> Library for the list of substances.


    Court Admissibility

    Are the results from the Centice devices admissible in court?

    Yes. The DOJ has declared Raman Spectroscopy a valid science for the examination of evidence. All Centice devices use a Raman Spectrometer, which is recognized for its design excellence and has been proven in the marketplace for over four years. Raman Spectroscopy has been used for evidence purposes in several US District courts involving pharmaceuticals. (e.g., Takeda v. Teva (Civ. No. 06-033-SLR). However no case in which MFL-3000 has been used has come to trial. Centice will back any jurisdiction with expert scientific testimony if required.


    What is the Scientific Working Group and why are its recommendations relevant?

    The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) co-sponsored the formation of Scientific Working Group for the analysis of seized drugs (SWGDRUG). This group, comprised of more than 20 forensic scientists from around the world, recommends standards for the forensic examination of seized drugs and seeks international acceptance for these standards.


    The group classifies all available sciences for drug analysis into three categories – category A, B or C based on their discriminatory power with “A” being the highest and “C” the lowest. Their guidelines to forensic labs indicate that a lab has to perform two tests on the seized samples, of which at least one should “A”. For example, the lab can categorize a sample as containing cocaine only if both tests indicate its presence.


    Since Centice uses Raman spectroscopy, the results delivered can be considered as meeting the “A” test requirement. A color test for cocaine would meet the requirement for a “C” test and support the results from a Centice device. Hence a combination of Centice Raman Spectroscopy result and color tests can be considered confirmatory.  Also noteworthy is that pharmaceutical identifiers (such as markings on tablets) are considered Category B. Since the Centice Pharmaceutical Library has the markings database, it can be considered to perform both Category A and B simultaneously.


    How does the Daubert test apply to Centice?

    The Daubert test is a rule of evidence regarding the admissibility of expert witness’ testimony during U.S. legal proceedings. Its predecessor was the Frye test. The Daubert test defines some of the guidelines for admitting scientific expert testimony, including demonstration of the evidence based on sound scientific methodology. Centice relies on well-known science – Raman spectroscopy – and there are literally hundreds of thousands of academic publications on the science with several thousand researchers working on the science. Raman as a science has passed the Daubert test and Centice is confident their devices can pass this test when subjected to it.


    I have made an arrest based on evidence from a Centice unit results and am heading towards a trial. Can Centice back me?

    Yes, we will completely support your case through the trial and will provide expert witnesses as needed at no cost to you.

    Field Conditions

    What field conditions can the Centice products tolerate?

    MFL series of devices are housed in an industrial strength Pelican® case with insulated foam for shock absorption. The spectrometer unit does not have any moving parts and has been tested extensively for durability and robustness. It is advisable to store the unit at the office until needed and kept inside the car unit use at the scene. The Pelican case is water resistant. The unit however, should not be exposed to sustained rain during operation.


    Do I need connection to power when using the MFL-series units in the field?

    No. All MFL-series units come with a battery, a power cord and a car charger. The battery provides six hours of unconnected operation.


    Do I need Internet access when the device is used at a crime scene?

    No, the unit’s database and software do not need Internet access in order to analyze substances in the field. Internet connection is needed only for downloading updates or for technical support purposes.


    What international languages do you support?

    Centice software is available in English and Vietnamese, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Thai and Chinese.


    What can I do if I experience a technical or operations problem in the field?

    Contact Centice at 1-(919)-674-4002 for immediate support or email to submit a question or issue.


    How much training is required to operate the MFL-3000?

    It’s easy to operate MFL-3000. However, to use the system with confidence and to explain the process in court, Centice recommends a minimum of 1 hour training. We present procedural items and fundamental concepts, such as: ensuring a clean chamber to avoid cross sample contamination, how to save and share spectral data with other agencies, how to accurately explain the science behind the MFL-3000, among other topics. Training is provided online through Centice with both online (webcast) and in person training programs.


    Do you provide on-site training?