Ion mobility spectrometry has been long used in the security industry because it is fast and robust. High throughput screening is especially important in field cases, because samples must often be analyzed on the spot in order for a decision to be made about whether a drug is counterfeit or whether a person or shipment is carrying illegal goods.

A growing threat in the world of illicit drug detection is the popularity of designer drugs, which are purposely formulated to be difficult to detect. For example, the class of drugs known as “bath salts” not not typically show up in urinalysis and are impossible for drug-sniffing dogs to smell. HPIMS has been effective in detecting these compounds, and is able to separate many of them from their chemically similar counterparts.

The limit of detection for HPIMS is somewhat compound dependant but falls in the part per billion to low part per million range. Quantification is possible over 2 to 3 orders of magnitude, making this a fast, reliable way to determine the presence and quantify of illegal substances.