The “European Network for Chemical Elemental Analysis by Total reflection X-Ray Fluorescence” Action aims to coordinate research and building capacity in the field of elemental analysis by total reflection X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (TXRF) to develop and assess new tools, protocols, methodologies, and instrumentation for screening and accurate determination of potentially toxic elements, for health and safety reasons, as well as nutrients and beneficial ones for quality control.
The Action will create an infrastructure for scientific communication, exchange, collaboration, to enhance technical standards, advance measurement science, fostering new research activities and combining the partners’ expertise in chemistry, physics, life science and engineering. This network will provide the information and tools to maximize European competitiveness in forming and attracting talented scientists, supporting new sources and capabilities that improve research productivity, quality, dissemination, efficiency, and career development.
The outcome is a novel technology portfolio for TXRF applications that will benefit science, economy and the society. The activities will enable breakthrough scientific developments leading to new concepts and products, increasing Europe’s research and innovation capacities, and supporting European Commission regulation organisations in crucial fields as environmental protection, food safety, life science, and nanotechnologies. ENFORCE TXRF will create well-organized and sustainable partnerships, preparatory to joint projects by dissemination of scientific knowledge and actively engaging new stakeholders.
The Action will attract the next generation of scientists, ensuring that Europe will remain at the frontline of research for the development of new tools for the chemical analysis.
RESEARCH COORDINATION OBJECTIVES
- Development of a common definition of the state of the art by sharing competences and know how about the use, methodologies, instrumentations and applications of TXRF for elemental analysis of biological, environmental, food, and many other samples.
- Coordination of inter-laboratory studies and joint experimentation at European and non-European level of different samples, representative of critical classes of interest for stakeholders (for example: honey for food safety, urine for health, air filters for environmental monitoring, etc.).
- Improvement and comparison of models for experimental data fitting and simulations to understand the crucial factors and their effects on the analysis results, and assessment of the related software/algorithms used for data analysis.
- Performances assessment of different instrumental configurations and sample preparation methodologies, and comparison with other analytical techniques used for elemental analysis, such as atomic absorption and inductively coupled plasma spectroscopies, highlighting advantages, disadvantages and possibilities of use in different application fields.
- Coordination of European experts to establish a permanent reference committee to assist and advice scientists, researchers, and students to employ TXRF in their research, to improve their theoretical and practical knowledge, to develop know-how, to access available infrastructures and to collaborate with experienced research groups and companies.
- Input to standardization bodies and metrology institutes for the development of new standard items in the frame of ISO/TC201/SC10 and the establishment of a CEN mirror committee in order to propose of TXRF as a primary chemical method and to support the EC regulations.
- Cooperation with private enterprises, such as instrumental manufacturers, to give inputs for future market applications, new tools for sample preparation in TXRF analysis, and low-cost and friendly-to-use TXRF instruments devoted to specific applications.
- Coordination of the identification, collection and curation of data related to the use of TXRF in the frame of the existing European Infrastructure for promoting metrology in food and nutrition (METROFOOD), and other relevant fields of application identified.
- Dissemination of research results and Action activities to stakeholders.
CAPACITY BUILDING OBJECTIVES
- Training of European stakeholders to lead an expansion of TXRF use in the world to develop consciousness about the potential applications, to evaluate and possibly improve the current state of the art, knowledge and methodologies, and to establish TXRF as a reference technique for screening and accurate elemental analysis.
- Acting as a stakeholder platform at the trans-national level on the topic, to collect the state of the art and know-how about the application fields of TXRF analysis, such as environmental, biological, life science, and food, but also infrastructures, research groups, and manufacturers, to act as a reference point.
- Increasing capability in European and selected developing countries in assessing the TXRF use for food safety, quality control and environmental monitoring. by fostering the knowledge exchange and the development of a joint research agenda around the most scientifically and socio-economically relevant topics of TXRF analysis.
- Fostering the knowledge exchange and the development of a joint research agenda about using TXRF in the new emerging applications in the medical, diagnostics, pharmacology and cosmetics field.
- Bridging the separate approaches of chemical and physical traceability needed to propose TXRF as a primary chemical method to the Consultative Committee for Amount of Substance (CCQM) and to propose dedicated standards.
- Connecting and strengthening collaborations among outstanding European and international scientists and experts, mainly chemists, physicists, engineers and life scientists with their different background to develop a joint research agenda and create successful ad wide competences consortia for joint research.
- Involving in this Action COST ITC, newly established research groups, teams from countries with less capacity, and women, since the early stage, assuring gender balance, enabling a uniform access to scientific and technological knowledge, to address vulnerabilities, and enhance knowledge sharing in the field of TXRF.
- Support ECIs, women and researchers from ITC by enabling them to take leading roles within the Action and the research framework as well as by creating a network where they can meet and exchange ideas on career moves, grant applications, possible collaborations and promotion of working opportunities.