9.3.6 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 ‘biological detection' were mentioned to be ‘cost of sensors, devices and instrumentation', ‘sensitivity', ‘time for detection', ‘size of detectors', ‘mobility of detection unit', and ‘accuracy of detection'. Other secondary drivers were identified as ‘integration of detection platform', and ‘life time of operation'
- 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 ‘biological detection' were indicated as ‘inadequate research funding', ‘lack of reproducible results', ‘failure in integrating devices' and ‘poor detection limit'. Other secondary barriers were mentioned to be ‘inadequate skilled personnel', ‘lack of equipment and testing facility' and ‘robustness of field trials'.
- ‘Collection and sampling', ‘integration of detector into monitoring unit', ‘continuous operation' and ‘specificity' were considered important functional requirement. Other 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'.
- Other secondary desirable functionalities for detection were indicated as ‘stability of detection material', ‘reversibility', ‘multifunctionality', ‘signal transduction', ‘minimal sample preparation', and ‘low cost'. ‘Reversibility' was considered 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. Trend is towards miniaturising biological sensor systems.
- Application development trend directed toward broad based technologies primarily for transportation hubs.
- Development of nanostructured functional materials and interfaces for high performance detection of biological agents.
- Systems integration is a gap in technology development for biological detection. Along with system issues, performance issues for sensors were also mentioned.
- Low false positives and low false negatives are the most important application requirement.
- Qualitative responses mentioned that getting the sample into the device, concentrating and analysing is a development challenge.
- In-situ forensics application demand has been mentioned.
- Lack of data sharing from field trials has been mentioned as a constraint for example by water companies.
- 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.
- Nanotoxicology was considered an important issue therefore development of appropriate risk assessment methods is necessary.
- The sensing methods for biological detection that are presently deployed are nucleic acid, immunoassays, optical biosensors and spectroscopy.
- Methods for biological detection that are expected to be deployed between 5 - 10 years are nanowires, and nanotubes based sensors.
- Development challenges for immunoassays were mentioned to be field practicability, durability of sensing surface, sample handling and cost. For nanotubes sensors, economical production of nanotubes was considered to a development issue to be addressed. Other development issues and critical factors for nanotubes and nanowires sensors were mentioned to be reproducibility, sensitivity, selectivity and pattern recognition. For spectroscopic techniques, miniaturising the system was considered to be the most challenging aspect.
- The very attractive and relatively higher growth market for biological detection was expected to be nucleic acid based and optical biosensors.
- The moderately attractive future growth markets for biological detection were expected to be immunoassays 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 indicated that US was considered to be far advanced than Europe in Biological detection. Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore were conducting considerable research. Notable advances have been made in China. Research funding was mentioned to be dispersed and effort was ill directed. US was considered good for commercialisation but increasingly Asia is becoming better. 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 suggested as:
- collaborative research between security agencies, academia and industry
- encouraging tax exemptions
- basic research to understand nanomaterials better
- greater need for biochemical basic and applied research
- technology transition from science to implemented demonstrators is gap that needs to be addressed.
- creation of thematic networks to improve coordination of research and development activity
- development of novel solution for sample collection and identification of a wide range of threats
- 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 the technology readiness level for biological agents should be assessed on a case by case basis for the specific threat agent and medium of propagation.
- It was recommended that sensor requirements for the EU are critically examined.
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