Paper Millifluidics Lab: Using a Library of Color Tests to Find Adulterated Antibiotics
A two to three period analytical chemistry experiment has been developed which allows second year students to explore chemical color tests used to detect adulterated pharmaceuticals. Students prepare several paper analytical devices (PADs) to generate positive and negative controls antibiotics, along with cutting agents such as starch and chalk. These PADs are used to identify the active ingredients and excipients in mystery tablets prepared by their classmates. In the second part of the lab, the students select an individual color test and design an experiment to quantify their mystery pill’s active pharmaceutical ingredient (API). Nearly all the student groups were able to successfully identify adulterants present in their mystery tablets. The quantification of the mystery tablets was also successful with all but one group calculating the correct concentration within 6%. In a post-lab assessment, the students identified their largest gains in their ability to analyze data and other information, skill in science writing, and learning of laboratory techniques.
This paper was a collaboration between Deanna O'Donnell at Hamlin College, and our group at UND.