The goal of the Detector Selector is to provide a searchable catalog of the latest available detection and diagnostic technologies that can detect and/or identify the presence of biological, chemical, and radiological agents.

The information for this site was gathered using the Global CBRN Detector Market Survey.
We would like to suggest the following methodology for using this guide.
  1. Review the four different scenarios and note how the technologies rank for a scenario of interest.
  2. Remember that scores have a subjective component and that all the technologies are included in the ranking, so don’t go by ranked tier alone.
  3. Download the Fact Sheet, in PDF format, for detailed information on the product.
  4. Finally, contact the manufacturer for more information or visit their website.

The bulk of the survey is contained in the Fact Sheet PDF files, which includes product specifications in a standardized format for easy comparison.

The Global CBRN Detector Market Survey is a detailed online survey, which is regularly completed by a growing number of vendors. It is sponsored by the Biosurveillance Management Office at the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense. This survey is the latest offering from the BioSciences Division of the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC), which has been providing the defense community comprehensive surveys and test results since 1974. This survey builds upon the success of the 2011 Chemical, Biological, Radiological Technology Survey by incorporating various improvements to create a more comprehensive and robust survey.

Some of the improvements include: The technologies were scored using 99 specific questions that were weighted based on four scenarios of use:

In order to capture the usefulness of each technology, four scenarios of use were devised: Field/Man portable; Mobile laboratory/Field laboratory; Diagnostic laboratory/Point of care; and High sensitivity, high throughput analytical laboratory. The four scenarios are designed to summarize the entire spectrum of detector and diagnostic utilization. Employing this approach, the Global CBRN Detector Market Survey can more accurately describe the usefulness of each system based on its specific characteristics.


Field use detection technologies are typically used by CBRN defense and force health protection Warfighters or scientists conducting analyses. These technologies are used outdoors in a variety of environments (e.g., desert, forest, plains, urban) and subjected to various environmental conditions (e.g., heat, cold, humidity). Ideally, they are small, lightweight, and easy to carry; simple to operate; and should not require other machinery such as centrifuges or heat blocks. Kits or devices with limited electrical requirements are preferred. These devices can be disposable with a single use only or reusable with minimal cleaning. Signature is important in the operation of these devices or systems, as large ventilation systems or protective gear could jeopardize covert operations. Field use devices can have a narrow range of detectable agents, (i.e., can be specific for one particular target) because several different devices may be deployed on a mission.


Mobile and field laboratory detection technologies are located in mobile laboratories. They are likely semi-automated or integrated into a system that is capable of a higher throughput of samples (e.g., 20-30 samples at a time). Some additional equipment such as centrifuges and vortexes can be used during operation, although smaller systems are preferred. Size is a concern with mobile laboratory components because space is limited and the detection device or system is likely only one component of the laboratory. A mobile laboratory ideally can operate for a longer period of time than a field use item; therefore, consumables and manpower are a concern. Signature is somewhat important for the mobile laboratory, as extensive safety precautions could hinder the mobility and camouflage of the mobile laboratory. Detection of a wide range of agents is preferable in a mobile laboratory detection device or system.


The diagnostic laboratory or point of care use scenario includes both brick and mortar laboratories, as well as non-laboratory spaces such as a physician office or clinic. The ability to obtain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and 510k clearance were weighted heavily to emphasize diagnostic capability. The device or system must be able to detect agents from blood, tissue, cultured cells, and other typical samples. Logistical or operational concerns, such as size, weight, signature, transportation, additional equipment, and consumables were not considered essential for this scenario; however, logistics is important in moving point of care use forward in the Combat Health Support system. Ideally, the diagnostic laboratory or point of care detection technologies can detect biological agents from all encountered samples with a consistently high level of specificity and sensitivity.


Analytical laboratory detection technologies are typically located in a brick and mortar building, such as a hospital or laboratory. They should be fully automated devices capable of high throughput of samples. An ideal detection device can detect a variety of agents quickly, have a high level of sensitivity, and is easy to operate. Because of the location of the system, device characteristics such as signature, additional equipment, and electrical requirements are of less concern. The device should be easily maintained with regularly scheduled maintenance and be relatively easy for a medical staff to operate.


The four scenarios detailed above represent distinctly different uses of detection technologies; in essence, each scenario involves different objectives and requirements. Once the objectives and requirements for the four scenarios were clearly defined, the authors generated an evaluation model. The foundation of the model is the evaluation criteria, which represent the important attributes for detection and are intended to differentiate the various types of technologies. Each evaluation criterion was defined and survey questions were designed to collect the required data for each technology. Each multiple choice survey question was aligned to a performance scale; the scales provide a means of measuring how well each technology “performs” relative to each criterion. The performance scales can be quantitative (e.g., speed, measured in minutes) or qualitative (e.g., utility, measured by assessing the best fit). Each level on the scale was assigned a utility value, ranging from zero for the lowest expected performance to 100 for the highest level of expected performance. Intermediate levels of performance were assigned values between zero and 100. The final step in developing the evaluation model was to weight the criteria. The weights indicate the relative value of a criterion, as defined by its performance scale, compared to the other criteria. The criteria were weighted by distributing 100 points amongst the individual criteria under the four headings of Throughput, Logistics, Operations, and Detection. Because each scenario is concerned with different objectives and requirements, the criteria weights varied depending on the scenario.

Table 1 shows how the were distributed relative to different scenarios

Each technology was scored relative to each criterion for each scenario. Overall scores and rankings were generated using IBM® Statistical Packages for Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 19 and Microsoft® Excel. In evaluations where risk is assessed with mixtures of quantitative and qualitative data, the most useful summary metrics are measures of total effectiveness. Measures of total effectiveness are vastly superior to qualitative summaries and categorical means because they eliminate biases created by categorical limits and preserve variances in raw data throughout aggregate calculations. Furthermore, compared to less rigorous approaches, measures of total effectiveness are verifiable; effective at normalizing multiple inputs of unique scales; allow for visibility of influential data points; and improve overall reporting accuracy. For these reasons, measures of total effectiveness are the appropriate summary metrics to use in the analysis.

THROUGHPUT Throughput of Product 0.03 0.05 0.11 0.2
Reuse 0.06 0.03 0.02 0.02
Speed 0.06 0.06 0.06 0.06
LOGISTICS Signature 0.06 0.04 0.03 0.01
Training 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01
Mobility 0.24 0.12 0.01 0.01
Physical System Requirements 0.16 0.12 0.08 0.03
System Maturity 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01
DETECTION Sensitivity and Detection 0.03 0.12 0.24 0.27
Versatility of Sample Input 0.01 0.17 0.23 0.26
OPERATIONS Operational Conditions 0.14 0.1 0.05 0.01
Maintenance 0.06 0.06 0.05 0.03
Ease of Use 0.07 0.06 0.06 0.05
Interoperability and System Complexity 0.06 0.05 0.04 0.03
Table 1: Weight Distributions for the Four Scenarios of Use

Scoring and Tier

The evaluation section is split into the four different scenarios: Field/Man portable; Mobile laboratory/Field laboratory; Diagnostic laboratory/Point of care; and High sensitivity, high throughput analytical laboratory. Within each section, the results of the analyses are additionally split into three areas of focus: biological agent specific systems; chemical agent specific systems; and radiological agent specific systems. This report analyzed 304 different technologies; there are 177 biological detectors, 120 chemical detectors, 71 radiological detectors, and 46 multi-functional systems. For each scenario of use, the biological, chemical, and radiological detectors were equally divided into five tiers based on the overall score of the technologies. In addition, within each tier of detectors it is important to distinguish between technologies that are mature and commercially available and those that are not yet available to the community. Brass and bread board technologies are important to analyze as they represent the future of detection; however, as immature products, the data submitted to the survey is potentially untested or theoretical. For the top tier systems in this section we have identified the mature technologies so that they can be compared against each other.

The in-depth, 99 question survey used to evaluate all detectors was weighted and scored by subject matter experts. The question weighting was specific to each of the four scenarios. Once all the detectors were scored, they were placed into tiers based on how they compared to other detectors of the same type (bio, chem or rad) and scenario (field, mobile, diagnostic, and analytical).

Field Use
Tier Key:
Tier 1 Top Tier
Tier 2 Second Tier
Tier 3 Third Tier
Tier 4 Fourth Tier
Tier 5 Bottom Tier