Zurich Forensic Science Institute


Chemical Analytics

High-Tech Evidence Analysis

The Chemical Analytics Department identifies unknown substances and quantifies known substances with the help of state-of-the-art analytical devices and physical and chemical procedures.

Specialist Unit Areas of Expertise

Legal or illegal? Whereas the classic narcotics (cannabis, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, etc.) contain a limited number of active substances, designer drugs are made up of a wide range of different substances – with more being added every day. The Narcotics and Fire Debris Analysis Unit quantifies, identifies, and characterises all of these substances. A large part of their work consists of acting in an advisory capacity to law enforcement, the judiciary, and other agencies.

Arson or accident? The examination of fire debris samples gets at the question of whether a fire was set with petrol, alcohol, or another accelerant.

Danger! Poison! The FOR's expert chemical consultants perform on-the-scene assessments of leaked liquids or gases in order to determine whether they are a danger to either human health or the environment.

Danger! Explosives! The chemical analysis of explosives and combustibles is carried out by the Analytics/Explosives Unit. In addition to identifying materials via chemical analysis, the unit's mandate includes analysing the structure and functionality of explosive devices. This specialist unit also conducts technical checks on ordnance destined for sale in Switzerland.

What is this stuff? The answer can be as diverse as the question is general. The FOR is specialised in the analysis of firearm residue, glass, and soil samples, as well as elemental analysis, determining the authenticity of jewellery, and much more.