The density, porosity, breaking force, viscoelastic properties, and the presence or absence of any structural defects or irregularities are important physical-mechanical quality attributes of popular solid dosage forms like tablets. The irregularities associated with these attributes may influence the drug product functionality. Thus, an accurate and efficient characterization of these properties is critical for successful development and manufacturing of a robust tablets. These properties are mainly analyzed and monitored with traditional pharmacopeial and non-pharmacopeial methods. Such methods are associated with several challenges such as lack of spatial resolution, efficiency, or sample-sparing attributes.
Recent advances in technology, design, instrumentation, and software have led to the emergence of newer techniques for non-invasive characterization of physical-mechanical properties of tablets. These techniques include near infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, X-ray microtomography, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) imaging, terahertz pulsed imaging, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, and various acoustic- and thermal-based techniques. Such state-of-the-art techniques are currently applied at various stages of development and manufacturing of tablets at industrial scale. Each technique has specific advantages or challenges with respect to operational efficiency and cost, compared to traditional analytical methods. Currently, most of these techniques are used as secondary analytical tools to support the traditional methods in characterizing or monitoring tablet quality attributes. Therefore, further development in the instrumentation and software, and studies on the applications are necessary for their adoption in routine analysis and monitoring of tablet physical-mechanical properties.