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Electronics, Information and Communication Technologies (EI)
SBIR Proposal Due Date: June 11th
STTR Proposal Due Date: June 13th


Primary Program Directors:
Glenn Larsen (glarsen@nsf.gov)
Murali Nair (mnair@nsf.gov)

Administrative Information
The required one-page project summary should discuss the intellectual merit and broader impacts in two separate paragraphs (max. 200 words per paragraph) that specifically answer the following questions:

  • Paragraph 1: Intellectual merit. What is the problem to be solved? How will the problem be solved? What is the innovation in the proposed approach?
  • Paragraph 2: Broader impacts. Why is your solution better than competitive technologies? Who is going to buy your solution? Who are the other key players?

If the above questions are not addressed, the proposal will be returned without review.

Proposals must address the potential for commercialization of the innovation and how the project would ultimately lead to revenue generation. It is important that the proposed technology increase the competitive capability of industry, be responsive to societal needs, and be sensitive to solving "real" problems driven by critical market requirements. There is considerable overlap between the subtopics and proposers should pay attention to the areas indicated under each subtopic to assist the program in placing these proposals on review panels.

Letters of Support for the Technology 
Inclusion of letters of support for the technology within the proposal is strongly encouraged. Letters of support act as an indication of market validation for the proposed innovation and add significant credibility to the proposed effort. Letters of support should demonstrate that the company has initiated dialog with relevant stakeholders (potential customers, strategic partners, or investors) for the proposed innovation and that a real business opportunity exists, should the technology prove feasible. The letter(s) must contain affiliation and contact information of the signatory stakeholder.

Importance of Communication with Program Director 
A company considering a proposal submission is encouraged to communicate (via email) with the Program Director to help gauge the responsiveness to the solicitation (the Program Director is indicated at the end of each subtopic). When contacting the Program Director please provide a brief executive summary, not to exceed two pages, with background on: 1) company/team including experience with previous SBIR awards, 2) market opportunity, 3) technology/innovation, and 4) competition.

You may contact the Program Director via email at any time before the submission deadline. Note, however, that communication with the Program Director will become increasingly difficult as the deadline nears.

Electronics, Information and Communication Technology (EI) Topic
The National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program seeks innovative state-of-the-art, high-risk, high-potential research proposals in wireless, electrical, photonic, microelectronic, nano-electronic, and information technologies.  Applications of these technologies can range widely in photonics, sensing systems, electro-optics, telecommunications, computation, integrated circuit design, quantum information processing, scientific and industrial instrumentation, robotics and control systems, advanced electronic materials, magnetics, micro- and nano-electro-mechanical systems, energy and power management, micro- and nano-electronics manufacturing, and information sciences. The EI topic is grouped under nine (9) alphabetically designated subtopics. You must select a subtopic appropriate for the proposed research and enter its letter and number designation (e.g. A.3) in the subtopic box on the proposal cover page.  Innovative EI proposal areas that are not suggested explicitly in the subtopics below may still be of interest if they fall generally within one of the subtopics.

NOTES:
1. Proposals that focus on topics such as software coding, protocols, computing architectures, etc. and if the final product is a software package or licensable software IP, should be submitted under sub-topic I.  
2. Proposals that address processes associated with the manufacture of non-electronic materials, components, or systems should be submitted under the Advanced Materials (AM) topic.

Sensors
Recent technological advancements in materials science and bioengineered systems have made inexpensive, powerful, and ubiquitous sensing a reality. Examples range from truly smart airframes and self-evaluating buildings and infrastructure for natural hazard mitigation to large-scale weather forecasting, self-organizing energy systems and smart devices that self-assemble into networks leading to the first electronic nervous system that connects the Internet back to the physical world. New detection technologies that overcome barriers of time, scale, materials and environment, and emphasize self-calibration, selectivity and sensitivity are solicited. Items of interest include but are not limited to the following subtopics. (Program Director: Murali Nair; mnair@nsf.gov)

A.1   Environmental sensing
A.2   Electrical/magnetic/optical/physical sensors
A.3   Acoustic emission monitoring
A.4   Body-area sensors/actuators for real-time, closed-loop health monitoring
A.5    Wireless sensors and wireless detection of sensor I/O
A.6   Sensors for smart transportation and infrastructure
A.7   Micro-power wireless/ autonomous sensing and networking
A.8   Actuators to enhance sensor performance
A.9   Sensors for life sciences, medical applications and systems
A.10  Gas phase and liquid phase sensing
A.11  Integrating performance standards for calibration (e.g. resistance, time, voltage)
A.12  Process control
A.13  Non-Destructive Testing and Evaluation systems
A.14  Remote sensing and search technologies

Wireless Technologies
Wireless will become massive in its pervasiveness, and impact virtually every aspect of life evolving well beyond mobile phones and PDAs to other devices, services, channels and content. Microwave circuits afford more frequency spectrum and very short antennas. With GaAs and SiGe, entire microwave transceivers can be inexpensively put on a single chip. New modulation methods, like spread-spectrum and orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing, bring greater spectral efficiency and more bits/Hz of bandwidth, and lead to less susceptibility to noise, interference, and multi-path distortion. On-chip DSPs allow new signal-processing functions. New RFID chips are revolutionizing warehousing, materials handling, and shipping operations, replacing bar-code labels in many areas. Proposals that involve next generation wireless communication technologies requiring systems with high data rates, low cost, and that support a wide variety of applications and services, while maintaining full mobility, minimum latency, and long battery life, but not limited to the following areas are sought. (Program Director: Juan Figueroa; jfiguero@nsf.gov)

B.1   Medical device applications
B.2   Wireless surveillance
B.3   RFID
B.4   Wireless sensor networks
B.5   Personal area networks
B.6   Bandwidth efficient techniques
B.7   UWB systems
B.8   SDR architecture and hardware
B.9   Smart antenna systems
B.10  RF component and device design
B.11  Spectral efficiency
B.12  Reconfigurable wireless platforms
B.13  Security of wireless systems
B.14  Legacy: Backwards and forwards interoperability and compatibility
B.15  Special-purpose wireless systems
B.16  Wireless system tests, measurements, and validation
B.17  Economic models for spectrum resource sharing

Electronic and Optoelectronic Devices
The Electronic and Optoelectronic Devices subtopic addresses the device building blocks for micro- and nano-electronics, photonics, magnetic and optoelectronics and electro-mechanics.  The program encourages cooperation with the semiconductor and photonics industries to address current industry challenges as well as new frontiers.  Areas include the following subtopics. (Program Director: Steven Konsek; skonsek@nsf.gov)

C.1   Electronic Devices

  • Bioelectronics and biomagnetics
  • Quantum devices
  • Magnetic, multiferrous and spintronics
  • Sensor devices and materials
  • Memory devices
  • Power electronics
  • Flexible electronics
  • Nanoelectronic devices
  • Other electronic devices

C.2   Integrated Circuit Design

  • Low power circuits and architecture
  • Novel chip architectures
  • Integration of nano to micro-scale devices on circuits

C.3   Photonic Devices

  • Nanophotonics and plasmonics
  • Advanced sources and detectors
  • Optical devices
  • Optical imaging
  • Light emitting diodes (organic/inorganic)
  • Lasers
  • Photovoltaics
  • Nonlinear and ultrafast photonic devices
  • Photonic integrated circuits
  • Other electronic devices

Micro-/Nano-Electro-Mechanical Devices and Systems (MEMS/NEMS)
(Program Director: Juan Figueroa; jfiguero@nsf.gov)

D.1   Sensors: Accelerometers, fluid flow measurement devices, combustion sensors, gyroscopic guidance systems, bio-analytic sensors, etc.
D.2   Actuators: Devices that respond to changes in their environment causing another device to turn on, turn off, adjusted or moved
D.3   Optical: Switches, lens arrays, beam splitters, corrective optics, etc.
D.4   Micro- and Nano-Machines
D.5   Integrated Systems:  Materials, devices, and issues for integration of MEMs (e.g., sensors, actuators, micro-fluidics) with electronic and photonic circuits (e.g., CMOS, waveguides).  Includes innovations in packaging and thermal management
D.6   MEMS design, processing, packaging, materials:
D.7   Innovative Technologies: Innovative ways of using and generating light not otherwise encompassed within the categories outlined above

Energy and Power Management
In the power electronics realm, as CMOS chips go to finer lithography with each new generation, their multiplying transistors require lower and lower voltages and higher and higher currents. These trends have driven up power demands on pc boards and placed constant pressure on power-supply and power-system developers to increase the efficiency and power or current density of their supplies. At the same time, the trends toward lower voltages and higher currents have encouraged migration from centralized to distributed and portable power architectures. Newer chips with lower supply-voltage requirements has greatly complicated power-system and power-supply design. At the system level, new energy storage technologies such as new battery chemistries, fuel cells, and flywheels could make a tremendous impact on system reliability and energy usage. Ongoing challenges at all scale levels in national and global energy needs are placing increasing demands for innovative alternative energy strategies that require a broad vision in a variety of areas including distributed controls and adaptive dynamic power flow for managing intelligent power grids of the future from the device to the system level. In the area of sustainable energy, proposed projects may include new critical devices, components, systems and materials for sustainable energy. Proposals are solicited on the following subtopics. (Program Director: Murali Nair; mnair@nsf.gov)

E.1   Electronic systems for energy efficiency and conservation, smart grids, smart meters, and smart buildings
E.2   Electronic systems for portable energy sources for mobile technologies and off-grid type applications
E.3   Power management systems for energy scavenging/harvesting and compact energy conversion systems
E.4   Interface devices between batteries and super-capacitors
E.5   Novel voltage conversion, micro-inverters and DC-DC voltage converters
E.6   Compact hi-voltage, hi-power systems
E.7   New energy sources for portable and mobile devices
E.8   Smart power demand-response management systems, e.g. smart grids, buildings, circuits
E.9   Inverters, motors and generators for higher efficiency, smaller size and power factor corrections
E.10  Energy harvesting and conversion from renewable resources, (including, for example, biological pathways but excluding solar technologies)
E.11  Sustainable energy storage solutions
E.12  Nature-inspired processes for sustainable energy solutions and carbon storage
E.13  Reducing carbon and resource intensity of hydrocarbon extraction, energy conversion and use
E.14  New technologies that support smart infrastructures (such as materials, sensors, devices and control systems) to ensure efficient and sustainable energy transmission, distribution, monitoring and management
E.15  Sustainable Energy. Proposed projects may include new critical devices, components, systems and materials for sustainable energy in any of the following areas: energy harvesting and conversion from renewable resources, (including, for example, biological pathways but excluding solar technologies); sustainable energy storage solutions; nature-inspired processes for sustainable energy solutions and carbon storage; reducing carbon and resource intensity of hydrocarbon extraction, energy conversion and use; and new technologies that support smart infrastructures (such as materials, sensors, devices and control systems) to ensure efficient and sustainable energy transmission, distribution, monitoring and management.

Scientific Instrumentation
(Program Director: Juan Figueroa; jfiguero@nsf.gov)

Geosciences

NSF/SBIR seeks proposals to design, develop, and prototype innovative sensors, devices and instruments for the scientific understanding of the integrated Earth systems, and that lead to an improved understanding of the factors that define and influence the Earth’s environment and planetary processes. Ozone levels, coal mine safety, radiation levels, seismic sensing, and oil exploration. Items of interest include but are not limited to: 

F.1   Instruments addressing environmental monitoring in geophysical, atmospheric, and oceanographic phenomena
F.2   Devices for physical measurements at the Earth's surface and in boreholes beneath the surface
F.3   Instruments for measurement of atmospheric parameters, such as temperature, pressure, water vapor, and radiation
F.4   Instrumentation for research in the world's oceans, lakes and seas, polar icecaps and remotely operated geosciences instruments

Astronomical

Proposals that lead to new instruments and devices are solicited for astronomical observations in the radio, sub-millimeter, infrared, and optical wavelengths. Items of interest include but are not limited to: 

F.5   Adaptive optics, wave front sensors, innovative focal plane technology, and lasers for artificial guide stars
F.6   Holographic gratings for dispersing elements and imaging Fourier transform spectrometers
F.7   Large diameter, broadband filters having low focal ratio number and uniform antireflection coatings
F.8   Heterodyne imaging spectrometers, with channel-independent auto-correlation, high resolution and large spectral coverage
F.9   Low-cost analog/digital converter chips for radio astronomy with high sampling rates and precision
F.10  Other Scientific Instrumentation

Robotics and Human Assistive Technologies
Challenges such as voice, obstacle and image recognition, emotional response, and eye-hand coordination still remain. High-performance processors, hardware to provide situational awareness, and improved artificial intelligence (AI) are enabling researchers to create lifelike robots with an entire gamut of facial expressions. Considerable progress will be made if robots possessed high intelligence needed to cope with uncertainty, learn from experience and work as a team. Robot designers are borrowing features from insect nervous systems, engineers and computer scientists cooperate with biologists, neuroscientists and psychologists to exploit new knowledge in the study of the brain and behavior. Some robots will help people do what they can't or would rather not do. Other robots will tackle complex projects by working as teams. Robots will help protect critical infrastructure and monitor the environment as mobile, intelligent sensors. Proposals involving robotics and intelligent machines having complex, human-like behavior are sought but not limited to the following subtopics. (Program Director: Murali Nair; mnair@nsf.gov)

G.1   To support the physical and educational needs of individuals with disabilities – e.g. vision, hearing, cognitive, motor related
G.2   Improved time imaging, visualization, dexterity and manipulation
G.3   Haptic, real-time and bio-inspired feedback
G.4   Semi-autonomous tele-robotics
G.5   Naturally inspired, biomimetic, neuromechanical robotics
G.6   Precision agriculture robotics
G.7   Robotics in healthcare (robotic prosthesis, robot-assisted rehab, miniature robotics, high throughput technologies – imaging, screening of drugs, surgical procedures)
G.8   Concepts for protecting human hands (in various extreme environmental conditions)
G.9   Robotics in agile manufacturing
G.10  Robotics in education
G.11  Anthropomorphic (human-shaped) robots
G.11  Co-robots - robots that work symbiotically (beside, in direct support, or cooperatively) with people to extend or augment human capacities; next generation of robotic systems able to safely co-exist in close proximity to humans in the pursuit of mundane, dangerous, precise or expensive tasks; proposals for sensors and perception, actuators and control, intelligence, machine learning techniques, architectures, systems, human/robot interfaces, and other developments that either realize or help to realize co-robots in manufacturing, service, exploration and assistive applications
G.12  Novel and advanced approaches to sensing, perception, and actuation including embedded and highly distributed systems
G.13  Intelligent control architecture for robotic systems; development of human-robot interfaces; communication and task sharing between humans and machines, and among machines; self-diagnosing, self-repairing robots

Micro-electronics Packaging, Thermal Management & Systems Integration
Proposals are solicited on more efficient means of integrating semiconductor components and devices into systems. The growth in chip density, coupled with the demand for high performance, small size, light weight, and affordable reliability has placed enormous pressure on interconnect technology and packaging at all levels. Proposals are solicited in improved techniques for interconnect and packaging at the board level, packaging approaches for the board components, the passive components, techniques for board assembly and finally, applications of techniques to packaging and systems integration for optoelectronics and wireless systems. (Program Director: Murali Nair; mnair@nsf.gov)

H.1   Printed Wiring Board Manufacturing - Board materials; Board preparation; Hole drilling, punching and plating; Circuit lithography (CAD tools); Solder masks; Multiplayer board fabrication
H.2   Single Chip Packages for improved performance and reliability in single and Multiple-chip packaging particularly thermal performance, of the following types: Through–hole; Surface mount; Area arrays (Ball Grid Array, Quad Flat Pack, etc.); Multichip modules
H.3   Passive Components - Methods for improving the performance of reliability of passives (capacitors, inductors, resistors) on the Printed Wiring Board with respect to: Discrete components; Integrated components; Embedded and on chip passive components
H.4   Board Assembly - Improved methods for board assembly in: Surface Mount Assembly including lead free soldering; Thick Film processing for ceramic components/ Hybrid systems; Thin Film processing using PVD and CVD techniques; Testing, Inspection and Measurement; Environmentally Benign Designs
H.5   Optoelectronic Systems - Improvement in manufacturing and systems integration of optoelectronic systems in the following areas: Optical Sources - lasers, VCSELs; Optical Detectors; Optical Channels/Fibers; Optical Interconnects
H.6   Wireless Systems - Manufacturing and systems integration of RF systems in the following areas: Transceivers – Antennas; Microwave Discrete Circuits; Microwave Monolithic Integrated Circuits; Microwave Integrated Circuits

Information Technologies
(Program Director: Juan Figueroa; jfiguero@nsf.gov)

I.1   Security, Privacy, Encryption, and Information Assurance in browsers, geolocation, web/cloud storage, transactions, mobile, network and other applications
I.2   Knowledge Discovery, Search, Data Mining, “Big Data” Management, and Visualization within a wide range of data intensive applications that may include financial services, medical records, traffic, weather, construction, police, personalized user and other service related environments.
I.3   Digital Arts including graphic arts, photography, digitalization of traditional art media, radio, television, theater, image capture, archiving, conservation, and restoration,
I.4   Virtualization, Cyber-Physical Systems, and Engineered Systems that are built from and depend upon the synergy of computational and physical components such as a smart electric grid, smart transportation and traffic management, smart buildings, energy management, drones, and autonomous systems that augment human capabilities, or provide ubiquitous healthcare monitoring and delivery that are offered as a service.
I.5   Human Computer Interfaces

  • Applications employing speech, touch, vision or biometric technologies
  • Spoken language systems - conversational dialog management, semantic language analysis or interpretation
  • Automatic translation

I.6   Predictive Information Systems. Creating devices, components, systems, algorithms, networks, applications or services that can be used to make reliable global, regional and local predictions of decadal climate variability and change; to support human intervention and to prevent unintended consequences in plant, animal, human, and physical systems. Applications may include the protection of human-built infrastructure and the restoration of ecosystem services that further sustain human well-being in terrestrial and coastal areas.

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