The Centre for Advanced Photonics and Process Analysis (CAPPA) is delighted to announce their researcher Dr Steven Darby has won the prestigious National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) Standards and Innovation Award for 2021. The Standards and Innovation Awards acknowledge the important contribution of research and innovation to standardization and celebrate the contributions of researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs to standardization. The awards ceremony took place at the NSAI standards virtual forum on Wednesday 13 October 2021 from 3 pm to 5 pm.

Dr Steven Darby won the NSAI Innovation Award in recognition of the contribution that he, supported by Munster Technological University, made to the development of the COVID – 19 Face Covering standards, SWiFT 19 and CWA 17553. The Innovation Award is awarded to organisations that participate on NSAI Standards Committees. The Award recognises the organisation’s efforts to create new standards to assist in preventing the spread of the COVID -19 virus in an innovative manner.

The NSAI standard for barrier masks was published in response to the COVID – 19 pandemic and provides important information for manufacturers and consumers in relation to barrier masks. The specification was developed in response to a request from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and with the view that many Irish manufacturing companies are trying to change their production lines in response to the pandemic. Dr Steven Darby contributed to the development of this document. As a result of this contribution he was appointed to the Irish delegation to the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), to assist with developing the CEN Workshop Agreement for Community Face Coverings.

The development of a standard on community face coverings in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, for general use by European citizens, is a new category of product. It is inevitable that there are a wide variety of levels of performance on the market including innovate designs. Dr Darby led and facilitated research at the early stages of the standards development process in order to establish the benchmark level of performance that is suitable for the intended use of the product and protection of consumers. Dr Darby led early stage research to support the development of the Irish Standards for barrier masks and face coverings to inform performance requirements. Innovate methods of testing were used by Dr Darby and those he collaborated with in University College Dublin (UCD), University Limerick (UL) and National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) during the research.

You can learn more about the research CAPPA has conducted in response to the COVID – 19 pandemic here and more about the general research at CAPPA here.