T-ray technique faster for tablet quality and structure testing say researchers

By Gareth Macdonald contact

- Last updated on GMT

iStock/fotojog
iStock/fotojog
High frequency radiation can be used to test tablet quality and structural characteristics on the production line according to scientists planning to develop low cost THz sensors. 

The team from the University of Eastern Finland made the claim in a paper​ this week in which they outlined a new, non-destructive method for assessing the quality properties of pharmaceutical tablets using terahertz time domain spectroscopy.

In addition to being able to measure characteristic like porosity, weight, height the approach can provide detailed structural information according to lead author Prince Bawuah.

Bawuah told us “we have introduced a novel structural descriptive parameter, passionately call the S parameter and with this parameter, we can see the inside of a tablet to know and understand how various inclusions are arranged inside the tablet.​”

This S parameter can be used to identify the dissolution properties and mechanical strength of the tablet as well as any internal defects.

As well as being non-destructive and eliminating the use of techniques like mercury intrusion porosimetry, terahertz time domain spectroscopy has other advantages that make it potentially very useful in the manufacturing environment according to Bawuah.

Due the measuring speed of our technique, we believe that inline applications can be realized in the future but much work and engineering will be needed to be done.

We also believe that if even inline approach will be problematic, online and atline approaches will suffice since many tablet samples can be tested for their quality before getting to markets​.”

Factory floor tech

The team plans to develop multi-functional THz sensors for quality checking at pharmaceutical manufacturing sites, however, a number of technical challenges still need to be addressed.

Bawuah told us “THz technology currently is a bit limited due to the inability to generate high power THz signal by less cost effective approach and less bulkier equipment. Also, there is the need of special measurement conditions due to the relatively high sensitivity of the THz radiation to water​.”

Despite these challenges “several efficient ways of generating and detecting of THz radiation is still under development and we know that with this unrelenting effort by several researchers THz technology has a bright future​” he continued.

Source: European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics

Title: Terahertz study on porosity and mass fraction of active pharmaceutical ingredient of pharmaceutical tablets

Author: Bawuah. P et al.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2016.06.007

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