9.5.6 Application and perspectives
In the expert engagement process for the technology segment, the following perspectives were observed:
- Funding research and development for detection of CBRNE and Narcotics was considered very important for society and economy of Europe.
- The most important drivers for research and development of ‘detection of CBRNE and Narcotics' were considered technological and social impact. The technological drivers relate to cost, performance, efficiency and absence of solutions. Other secondary drivers were indicated as competitive advantage in conflict situations, safety, productivity gains and regional security policy.
- The main drivers for R&D of ‘explosive detection' were mentioned to be ‘cost of sensors, devices and instrumentation', ‘size of detectors', ‘mobility of detection unit', ‘life time of operation' and ‘accuracy of detection'. Other secondary drivers were identified as ‘integration of detection platform', ‘sensitivity', and ‘time for detection'.
- The main barriers to research and development of ‘detection of CBRNE and Narcotics' were mentioned as ‘availability of finance to early stage companies' and ‘inadequate technology transfer from Universities'. Secondary barriers indicated were ‘intellectual property conflicts', ‘lack of tax incentives' and ‘lack of supportive government policy'.
- Qualitative responses indicated to meet the challenges of ‘availability of finance', EU needs to consider dual commercial use of security technology as the market was relatively smaller than US. While trends in US are towards government driven technology that is validated, EU grants are inadequate for proving technology. It was suggested that government validation of systems was necessary as laboratory systems not scaled for field use.
- The main barriers to R&D of ‘explosive detection' were indicated as ‘inadequate research funding', ‘lack of skilled personnel availability' and ‘lack of reproducible results'. Other secondary barriers were mentioned to be ‘poor detection limit', ‘failure in integrating devices', ‘robustness of field trials' and ‘inadequate skilled personnel'.
- The most important functionality for detection were indicated as ‘sensitivity of specie being detected', ‘reproducibility of accurate results', ‘retaining functionality in wide operating conditions', and ‘long operating life with minimum maintenance'. ‘Collection and sampling' and ‘specificity' were considered other very important functional requirement.
- Other secondary desirable functionalities for detection were indicated as ‘stability of detection material', ‘multifunctionality', ‘signal transduction', ‘minimal sample preparation', ‘integration of detector into monitoring unit' and ‘low cost'. ‘Reversibility' was considered a relatively less important functionality.
- The application trends were mentioned as:
- The charecteristics of a detector application are mission and scenario dependent.
- Development of portable and sensitive detection devices. There is a present lack of portable instruments with good sensing characteristics.
- Application development trend directed toward broad based technologies primarily for transportation hubs.
- Development of nanostructured functional materials and interfaces for high performance detection of chemical agents.
- Systems integration is a gap in technology development for detection.
- Low false positives and low false negatives are the most important application requirement.
- Response time was entirely application dependent. While in border situation 2-3 seconds response time is ideal, longer at trading ports, it should be within milliseconds in crowded locations.
- Operational constraints were identified as environmental changes such as temperature, humidity and large number of interferants. Mobility of detection device, and calibration for temperature and humidity were mentioned as constraints.
- Other operational constraints were mentioned to be calibration of measurement, skills and interpretation needed from operator.
- Processing constraints were identified as lack of basic understanding to control nanomaterials in a precise manner.
- Improving cost effectiveness by controlled large scale production and improve laboratory infrastructure for mass scale production.
- Long development life cycles for applications are characterised by delivering scientific results, establishing performance and establishing cost effective performance of detection technologies.
- The deployment of detection methods for explosives was perceived to be:
§ sensing methods presently deployed are electrochemical, optical fibres, mass based and spectroscopy based detection.
§ methods for deployment after 5 years of development are terahertz and surface enhanced raman scattering.
§ methods expected to take over 10 years to be deployed were mentioned to be nanowires, nanomechanical sensors, cataluminescence, and biosensors.
- Development challenges for biosensors were mentioned to be reliability, long operating life. Cost, sample handling, selectivity and robustness are factors which would determine the uptake of biosensors. For terahertz the development challenge was considered to be cost effectiveness. SERS and spectroscopy had limitations due be being laboratory based methods. Cost and power are other issues to be addressed for spectroscopy. Nanomechanical research challenge was mentioned to be interfacing between mechanical and sensing function. Sensitivity, selectivity, reproducibility and pattern recognition are factor which would determine the uptake of nanowires and nanomechanical.
- The very attractive and relatively higher growth market for explosive detection was perceived to be terahertz.
- The moderately attractive growth markets for explosives detection were expected to be electrochemical, biosensors, mass based, surface enhanced raman scattering, optical fibres, spectroscopy based detection and nanowires.
- North America was considered relatively better than Europe which was considered better than Asia for fundamental and applied research, industrial technology development and commercialisation for the Detection sub-sector. While Asia was considered better for cost effectiveness for technology, EU was considered better for governmental policy for innovation. Qualitative responses mentioned that EU research was complimentary to US for explosive detection. It was mentioned that Europe had existing sensor deployment relatively better than other world regions, it lacked research and development for future leadership.
- Qualitative suggestions on improvement of capabilities were:
§ collaborative research between security agencies, academia and industry
§ encouraging tax exemptions and basic research to understand nanomaterials better.
§ technology transition from science to implemented demonstrators is gap that needs to be addressed.
§ creation of multinational, multidisciplinary fund for development
§ creating a centre for standardised testing for different sensors
The theme of integrated platform for detection of chemical, biological, explosive, radiological and nuclear threats was conducted at Dusseldorf in March 2009. The following outcome and recommendations resulted from the discussion:
- Technology was not sufficiently advanced to achieve single platform detection.
- An integrated modular system that focuses on Chemical, Biological and Explosive as one unit and Radiological-Nuclear detection as a separate module is a better approach.
- One of the main weaknesses for CBRNE detection was considered to be systems integration. It was suggested that a statement of requirements to be produced taking nanotechnology into consideration.
- Accuracy and reliability of measurement was considered to be most important characteristic. Reproducibility of measurements and operating life of sensor were considered to be poor for modular systems of detection.
- The cost of false positives are very high, therefore operational definition should be developed on a case by case basis for a modular system.
- The need for greater fundamental research in understanding the sensing mechanism was emphasised.
- It was recommended that communication between materials and sensing community be improved in order to create mutual awareness of technical breakthroughs.
- The first area of application is expected to be transportation hub for such a modular system.
- Technology penetration and application driven by state for CBRNE detection.
- It was recommended that sensor requirements for the EU are critically examined.
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