Technology Readiness Level Description (Source: http://www.y12.doe.gov/business/technologies/):
• TRL 1. Scientific research begins translation to applied R&D - Lowest level of technology readiness. Scientific research begins to be translated into applied research and development. Examples might include paper studies of a technology’s basic properties.
• TRL 2. Invention begins - Once basic principles are observed, practical applications can be invented. Applications are speculative and there may be no proof or detailed analysis to support the assumptions. Examples are limited to analytic studies.
• TRL 3. Active R&D is initiated - Active research and development is initiated. This includes analytical studies and laboratory studies to physically validate analytical predictions of separate elements of the technology. Examples include components that are not yet integrated or representative.
• TRL 4. Basic technological components are integrated - Basic technological components are integrated to establish that the pieces will work together.
• TRL 5. Fidelity of breadboard technology improves significantly - The basic technological components are integrated with reasonably realistic supporting elements so it can be tested in a simulated environment. Examples include “high fidelity” laboratory integration of components.
• TRL 6. Model/prototype is tested in relevant environment - Representative model or prototype system, which is well beyond that of TRL 5, is tested in a relevant environment. Represents a major step up in a technology’s demonstrated readiness. Examples include testing a prototype in a high-fidelity laboratory environment or in simulated operational environment.
• TRL 7. Prototype near or at planned operational system - Represents a major step up from TRL 6, requiring demonstration of an actual system prototype in an operational environment.
• TRL 8. Technology is proven to work - Actual technology completed and qualified through test and demonstration.
• TRL 9. Actual application of technology is in its final form - Technology proven through successful operations.