Skip to main content

Network for Sensor Knowledge Transfer

Final Report Summary - IBS-NETWORK (Network for Sensor Knowledge Transfer)

The main aim of this Research Exchange programme Ionophore Based Sensor Network (IBS-NETWORK) was to establish the scientific basis from which the utility and potential for IBSs can be extended into a range of new sectors. In order to achieve this aim, we combined expertise from a number of disciplines and backgrounds, including analytical science focused on IBSs, organic synthesis, materials science, microfluidics and statistics. By forming such a multidisciplinary network we planned to achieve three types of objectives: 1) Research, 2) Knowledge Transfer, and 3) Strategic.

In order to achieve these objectives we organised our activities into three scientific themes. Activities in Theme 1 (Synthesis of adaptive and responsive materials) were centred on the design and synthesis of new classes of hybrid materials with a view to their use in sensing applications. The purpose of Theme 2 (Characterisation and understanding of mechanisms of response) was the characterisation and critical evaluation of materials parameters relevant for sensing applications. The activities in Theme 3 (Development of new methodologies and sensing platforms) were focused on the development of new methodologies and sensing platforms capable of addressing the challenges associated with application of IBSs in the non-traditional sectors.

Each of the three Themes was designed to promote multidisciplinary collaboration with the overall aim of bringing the field of IBSs closer to practical applications. For a number of years in the past the research in the field was very vigorous and centred on fundamental description of mechanism of response of IBSs. However, transfer from academic laboratories into the real-world application was somewhat slow. We were very proud to see significant shift into the more applied research in IBSs. This was particularly obvious during the conference Mátrafüred 2017 (conference focused on IBSs) where a significant portion of the work presented focused on real-life applications, typically in environmental analysis but also in the field of personalised medicine (wearable sensors). It should be noted that members of IBS Network were leading in presenting the work in these directions, although it was clear that other groups share our vision of the future of IBSs by presenting their own work with potential real-life applications.

It is also important to note that IBS Network achieved its goal of knowledge transfer. Students going on secondments have learned to develop new sensing layers, to use highly sophisticated instrumentation for characterisation of sensors, to develop novel sensing platforms etc.; all of which is an excellent foundation for further scientific development in the field. Also important is that one of our goals for knowledge transfer is to develop a new set of future leaders in the field. They were mentored by Project Partners that have a significant world-leadership reputation. These “future leaders” as we called them in the project application have grown into research group leaders capable of directing a number of students and postdocs and conceiving ideas that resulted in patents and high-impact peer-reviewed publications. In addition, focusing on the ‘future leaders’, they were able to attract external funds for continuing their independent research in the field thus demonstrating their ability to lead in the future.

In conclusion, bringing the field of IBSs closer to real-life applications and thus closer to commercialisation combined with the development of the leaders excited to and capable of moving the field from the laboratory into the real world is the most significant impact of the project. Society has obtained personnel with the ability to recognise key issues relevant for real-world applications and to develop appropriate solutions for complex problems.