Border detection of illicit drugs and precursors by highly accurate electrosensors



Combining robust sensor technologies with the inherent advantages of electrochemical strategies, nano-molecularly imprinted polymers, and multivariate and pattern data analysis, BorderSens will enable highly accurate selective detection of trace levels of illicit drugs and precursors.

With borders being important gateways for the entrance of illicit drugs and their precursors, custom and border control authorities are facing pertaining challenges to detect such dangerous substances and safeguard the public. The main challenges posed by currently used on-site methods to detect illicit drugs and precursors are low accuracy, in the case of colour tests, and high cost and low portability, in the case of spectroscopic tests.

In the light of a pressing need for better drug test systems at EU borders, the ultimate research aim of BorderSens is to develop a portable, wireless single prototype device with the capability to quickly test for different types of drugs, precursors and adulterants/cutting agents, with outstanding accuracy and reduced false positives and false negatives.

BorderSens will demonstrate its innovative technological solution at seven demonstration sites at EU borders with end-users and ensure exploitation plans guaranteeing strong impact.



  • Rapid and simultaneous electrochemical detection and identification of illicit drugs (including cutting agents and adulterants) and their precursors. BorderSens targets at detecting illicit drugs and precursors that pose real, pertaining challenges to EU border control authorities, by active participation of end-users as partners and members of the advisory board. By unravelling the electrochemical fingerprint, excellence and new knowledge will be created on the redox pathways and the influence of cutting agents on the redox behaviour of illicit drugs.
  • Excellent selectivity and sensitivity and outstanding accuracy, through the combination of innovative and advanced smart nanomaterials, i.e. nanoMIPs, electrochemical methods, and multivariate analysis and pattern data analysis with specifications to allow analysis in-field.
  • Development of a low cost user-friendly handheld (wireless) prototype device for drug detection on-site, demonstrated in-field, that is used by different authorities without scientific knowledge or training, with alarm function for new substances. The prototype will integrate the technology elements: array, software, hardware, consumable and secure communication system.

To achieve such ambitious goals, BorderSens brings together universities, a big manufacturer of electrochemical sensors, a specialized mid-cap company, ten end-users (forensic institutes, police forces and border authorities), and a high quality external advisory board, to provide an excellent scientific-technical perspective and a straightforward exploitation route, with great impact on the safety of EU citizens.



Relevant, public findings obtained as result of BorderSens project will be uploaded here. Also, you can keep updated on project progress by following us in Twitter and LinkedIn.

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