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CORDIS - Resultados de investigaciones de la UE



Período documentado: 2022-01-01 hasta 2023-12-31

Vulnerability of critical indoor infrastructures to chemical terrorist attacks poses a significant point of concern for Member States authorities responsible for incident preparedness and prevention. The range of possibilities for terrorist attacks involving toxic chemicals is wide. In any event, an attack using unconventional weapons would certainly cause serious economic and social disruption to normal, day-to-day activities.

In all areas of countermeasures against CBRNE attacks, be it threat assessment, prevention, preparedness, response or recovery it is crucial to be able to detect and, if possible, identify the threatening material. Thus, the existence of early warning detection systems is critical for preventing casualties.

SENSOFT pursues, for the first time, the comprehensive study of early warming nanoenabled detection systems in the area of CBRN protection by means of knowledge-sharing-based cooperation between academia, specialized research centres and industry. The proposed research and innovative programme goes far beyond the SoT and SoA in chemical threats detection, by moving from conventional portable instrumentation and discrete sensing units towards a next generation of pervasive, interconnected orthogonal detection system for fast and reliable response.

The vision of SENSOFT encompasses a novel class of unattended and cost-effective sensing and sampling networks for indoor air monitoring on soft vulnerable places. The development of a wireless gas sensing network consisting of orthogonal and ultrasensitive microsensors and gas preconcentration/ sampling network comprising advanced molecular traps and SERS substrates will enable both:

-rapid first-alarm to improve situational awareness

-reliable hazard identification for alarm confirmation

The close cooperation among multidisciplinary partners from research institutions and SMEs will ensure knowledge transfer between academia and business in order to convert an academic concept to a viable and innovative product.

SENSOFT will contribute towards the development of a wireless gas sensing-sampling network for chemical threats detection consisting of: i) ultrasensitive microsensors modified with nanostructured materials integrated in cost-effective smart tags; and, ii) preconcentration-sampling nodes comprising advanced specific molecular traps and Surface Enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrates for the analysis by a miniaturised, commercial, portable Raman spectrometer. Figure 1 depicts the overall concept for the operational/operative detection of chemical threats. The deployment of cooperative tools for first warning and reliable identification facilitates the mission thanks to some definite advantages: they are robust to failure as there are numerous and ubiquitous tags and sampling nodes deployed on the location; detection and identification tasks can be accomplished more quickly, and cross-checking of sampling nodes with a broader set of conventional analytical instrumentation, apart from Raman spectrometer, is allowed.

Figure 1 (uploaded).
SENSOFT has advanced in the synthesis and characterization of materials for gas sensing by exploring a wide range of gas sensitive nanomaterials. These include nanostructured metal oxides (nanoparticles, nanowires), transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) materials and graphene decorated with different types of perovskite nanocrystals, metal clusters and polymer nanoparticles. Materials have been employed in the formulation of printable inks and sensors have produced employing additive manufacturing techniques. The gas sensing properties of these devices have been studied. For doing so SENSOFT has developed a test platform.

These sensors have been integrated in wireless sensing nodes. A network of LoRa nodes connected through a gateway to a server based on LoRa an LoRaWAN protocol has been designed, deployed and tested. Alternative architectures using RFID and NFC Communications have been explored and implemented as well.

In parallel, we have developed new adsorbent materials in view of achieving passive sorption traps that would be deployed in indoor areas, adsorbing volatiles present in their surrounding environment. Besides benchmarking commercially available adsorbents, micro and mesoporous materials with outstanding adsorption characteristics for the targeted gas molecules have been developed.

SENSOFT has developed modified substrates for performing surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), which has enabled the ultra-selective detection (in the gas phase) of the target molecules. The ultra-selective detection of target molecules at very low concentrations (parts per billion) has been achieved.

We have developed materials and printable inks for energy harvesting and have implemented vibrational energy harvesting technologies and devices as solutions for powering sensor networks. Promising results have been achieved in the development of triboelectric, piezoelectric and thermoelectric nanogereators. Using these we have been able to operate battery less smart sensing tags.

All the Technology developments within the SENSOFT have been thoroughly assessed and a final validation exercise with real warfare agents was conducted towards the project end.
The SENSOFT has achieved progress beyond the state of the art by developing new gas sensitive, adsorbing or energy harvesting nanomaterials and by devising surface functionalised substrates for the ultra-selective detection of gases via SERS. SENSOFT has advanced the development of unattended, wireless gas sensing networks by implementing new nodes with embedded gas sensors, long-range communication capabilities and power management systems.

SENSOFT has contributed to strengthen the competitiveness and to the growth of its participating small and medium enterprises by developing new solutions and products in gas sensors, passive sorption traps, unattended gas sensing networks, portable SERS detection systems and energy harvesting. A recently launched spin-off company (NanoChronia S.L.) offers IoT solutions for toxic gases monitoring, leveraging some of SENSOFT tecnologies.

Finally, SENSOFT addresses societal needs at national and regional levels by providing technological solutions for facing security issues. Even though the primary targets for SENSOFT are warfare agents, the solutions and sensors developed can be tuned to support efforts for fighting climate change and the ecological transition. This is what the spin-off NanoChronia is offering via its IoT detectors for ammonia, methane and hydrogen, exploiting some of SENSOFT’s KERS as listed below:

1. Low operating temperature, ultralow power, chemoresistive gas sensors for detecting traces of volatiles in ambient air by using SENSOFT developed nanomaterials.

2. Unattended, wireless gas sensing networks using the SENSOFT developed chemoresistive sensors and energy harvesting devices for extending the battery life of wireless gas sensing nodes.

SENSOFT validated technologies are highly promising for the on-field ultra-sensitive and selective detection of toxic target species in the gas phase, particularly using portable SERS detectors.
SENSOFT concept for early detection of airborne chemical treats in soft targets