On-the-Spot Detection and Speciation of Cannabinoids Using Organic Thin-Film Transistors

ACS Sens. 2019 Oct 25;4(10):2706-2715. doi: 10.1021/acssensors.9b01150. Epub 2019 Aug 27.


Quality control is imperative for Cannabis since the primary cannabinoids, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), elicit very different pharmacological effects. THC/CBD ratios are currently determined by techniques not readily accessible by consumers or dispensaries and which are impractical for use in the field by law-enforcement agencies. CuPc- and F16-CuPc-based organic thin-film transistors have been combined with a cannabinoid-sensitive chromophore for the detection and differentiation of THC and CBD. The combined use of these well-characterized and inexpensive p- and n-type materials afforded the determination of the CBD/THC ratio from rapid plant extracts, with results indistinguishable from high-pressure liquid chromatography. Analysis of the prepyrolyzed sample accurately predicted postpyrolysis THC/CBD, which ultimately influences the psychotropic and medicinal effects of the specific plant. The devices were also capable of vapor-phase sensing, producing a unique electrical output for THC and CBD relative to other potentially interfering vaporized organic products. The analysis of complex medicinal plant extracts and vapors, normally reserved for advanced analytical infrastructure, can be achieved with ease, at low cost, and on the spot, using organic thin-film transistors.

Keywords: CBD; THC; analytical methods; organic thin-film transistors; sensors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cannabidiol / analysis*
  • Cannabidiol / chemistry
  • Copper / chemistry
  • Dronabinol / analysis*
  • Dronabinol / chemistry
  • Indoles / chemistry
  • Organometallic Compounds / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Silanes / chemistry
  • Transistors, Electronic
  • Volatilization


  • Indoles
  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Plant Extracts
  • Silanes
  • Cannabidiol
  • Copper
  • Dronabinol
  • octyltrichlorosilane