The general objective of the project can be summarized as to establish an effective collaboration of scientists - researchers and military experts in Czech Republic and Republic of Armenia in a security-related branch. The following organizations will take part in solving of the project: (i) Institute of Chemical Technology, Prague (ICT Prague) - Czech Republic as NPD's institution, (ii) Yerevan State University (YSU) - Republic of Armenia as PPD's institution, (iii) NBC Defence Institute/ University of Defence in Brno - Czech Republic as Co-Director A's institution and (iv) National Bureau of Expertise - Republic of Armenia as Co-Director B's institution. The project results will be at the disposal to End-Users (Czech Armed Forces Chemical Corps, Development and Capability Planning Division, Ministry of Defence in Czech Republic and Defence Industry Department of Ministry of Defence in Republic of Armenia). The research interests and skills of participants in the project topic - the area of gas sensors - are complementary, so there can be expected a complex view regarding both basic-research approach and its practical security applications. A highly important aspect of the project is also in involvement and support of young researchers (postdocs) and doctoral students working in all the participated institutions - short-term training stays in collaborating institutions will be organized for them. Postdocs will work in inter-institutional and international teams on tasks of detection of taggants in explosives (TGE's) and chemical warfare agents (CWA's).
The unifying technical idea of the project is in research of solid state gas (SSG) sensors with electrical output signal for detecting of two classes of chemical substances which are significant in the prevention of security-risks: volatile taggants in explosives and chemical warfare agents. Due to the security and legal reasons the research of SSG sensors for detecting CWA's will be partially carried out on CWA simulating agents.
Solving of the project will include a systematic investigation of newly synthesized promising materials and their composites for sensitive layers of solid-state gas sensors. Such topic has continuity with long-term research of NPD's, PPD's and Co-Director A&B institutions. We plan to investigate: variable chemical composition (semiconductor metal oxides, semiconductor organocomplexes, conducting polymers, nanostructured carbon materials), morphology (nanostructured materials), and architecture (homogeneous layers, composites containing nanotubes/nanoparticles, sandwich structures with vertical gradient of electric resistivity) of sensitive layers. The properties of studied sensors will be optimized according to following criteria: detection limit to volatile TGE's / CWA's in air, cross-sensitivity to common interferents, response/recovery time, operating temperature (an effort to minimize their consumption of electrical energy) and long-term stability of sensor parameters. We will use original approaches developed by our teams such as evaluation of phase angle sensitivity and preparation of functional layers with vertical gradient of electric resistivity. In the final stages of the project the functional sensor chips with optimized parameters will be fabricated. These chips are intended to serve as replaceable modular parts of small portable multicomponent low cost detecting devices. Such project output will also enable application of SSG sensors as constituents of network sensor arrays in portable detecting devices (e-noses) for security forces.
The expected outcomes:
- Establishing an effective cooperation between scientific teams (including experienced researchers, post-doc researchers and doctoral students) and military experts between a NATO-country and a NATO partner country. A special attention will be paid to involvement of young scientists (post-doc researchers and doctoral students) into the project.
- Optimization of chemical composition (selection of source materials), vertical structure (i.e. investigation of not only homogeneous layers, but also graduated sensitive layers) and deposition technology of sensitive layers in order to obtain systems detecting volatile taggants in explosives and chemical warfare agents. This optimization will be carried out to achieve low detection limit, fast response, minimum operating temperature and long-term stability. The cross-sensitivity to common interferents will be minimized by setting individual sensors into arrays and evaluating output data by PCA method.
- Fabrication of functional chips of low-cost solid-state gas sensors (intended also for future applications as constituents of Network Sensor Arrays) for detecting volatile TGE's and CWA's. Calculation of manufacturing costs necessary for sensor chip fabrication (both in research area and in series production).
- Provision of the results to End-users (Ministries of Defence of both countries) and NATO authorities.
- Publication of selected results in international journals and monographs, presentation at topical conferences; all the published results will be dedicated to NATO SPS Programme.
- Patenting of selected results (composition of sensitive layer, architecture of sensor chip, sensor operation mode) in Armenia.