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Nanotechnology, Advanced Materials and Manufacturing (NM)
SBIR Proposal Due Date: June 11th
STTR Proposal Due Date: June 13th

Primary Program Directors:
Steven Konsek (skonsek@nsf.gov)
Rajesh Mehta (rmehta@nsf.gov)
Ben Schrag (bschrag@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. Please do not contact multiple Program Directors in parallel for the same project, as this adds a great deal of unnecessary work; if the first Program Director you contact is not the appropriate point of contact, they will put you in contact with the appropriate person.

Nanotechnology, Advanced Materials and Advanced Manufacturing (NM) Topic
The NM topic seeks to support high-risk, high-payoff innovative technologies with the potential for significant impact on industry, consumers, and society, thereby catalyzing new business opportunities for small businesses in today's global marketplace. Novel technologies aimed at achieving increased performance, reduced cost, and/or new functions or applications are of great interest. NSF is committed to supporting the further development of scientific discoveries to benefit society and to emphasize private sector commercialization. We seek to fund small businesses which are committed to the creation of a sustainable and scalable business driven by revenues and support from customers and private-sector partners.

Proposals should address one of the subtopics that are outlined below.  When submitting a proposal to the NM Topic, code the proposal to the corresponding subtopic under which you are submitting the proposal, e.g., N1 for proposals in the area of "Nanomaterials", AM5 for proposals in the area of "Structural Materials", and M1 for proposals in the area of "Manufacturing Processes". In addition, use the same code as the first item in the key words/phrases portion of the Project Summary of your proposal.

If your project or innovation does not seem to fit with one of the below topical areas, but still meets the technical and commercial/broader impact criteria of the NSF SBIR program, please contact one of the Program Directors listed above to discuss.


The Nanotechnology subtopic addresses the creation, manipulation, and characterization of functional materials, devices, and systems with novel properties and functions that are achieved through the control of matter at a submicroscopic scale (from a fraction of nanometer to about 100 nanometers). Proposals should be driven by market needs and demand, and should identify the end users of the proposed technology, and also the proposed pathway to commercialization.

N1. Nanomaterials
Material innovations in scalable synthesis, purification, and processing techniques for nanolayered structures (e.g. graphene), nanowires, nanotubes, quantum dots, nanoparticles, nanofibers, and other nano-materials. (Program Director: Rajesh Mehta; rmehta@nsf.gov

N2. Nanomanufacturing 
Innovations for manufacturing at the nanoscale, including self-assembly, nanolithography, nanopatterning, nanotexturing, etc. Proposals which seek to develop processes, techniques, and equipment for low-cost, large-scale production of nano-structured materials are encouraged. (Program Director: Rajesh Mehta; rmehta@nsf.gov

N3. Instrumentation for Nanotechnology

Innovations for new and improved methods and instruments for fabrication, characterization, or manipulation, which will assist in the development and deployment of nanotechnology and its commercial applications. Includes imaging and visualization methods (e.g. scanned probe microscopy and electron microscopy) as well as manipulation techniques (e.g. high-precision positioners and actuators), and chemical and spectroscopic methods. (Program Director: Ben Schrag; bschrag@nsf.gov)   


The Advanced Materials subtopic addresses the research and development of new materials and systems that have the potential for revolutionary changes and paradigm shifts in U.S. industry. Proposals should be driven by market needs and demand, and should identify the end users of the proposed technology, and also the proposed pathway to commercialization.

AM1. Electronic and Magnetic Materials
Material innovations for new functionalities and/or improved performance in electronic and magnetic applications.  Includes, but is not limited to, novel semiconductor materials, sensor materials, materials for advanced lithography, materials for high-temperature, high-power, or high-frequency applications, superconductors, and materials for organic and/or flexible electronics. Proposals related to semiconductor processing or manufacturing (such as the integration of advanced materials with silicon, or materials related to advanced lithography) are also included in the AM1 topic. (Program Director: Steven Konsek; skonsek@nsf.gov)

AM2. Optical and Optoelectronic Materials 
Material innovations for improved performance in optical, photonic, and optoelectronic applications.  Includes materials for improved optical or radiation sensors, optical materials for electronics (flexible or traditional), materials for lasers or light-emitting diodes, novel materials for displays, and active optical materials.  Materials related to photovoltaics or photovoltaic processing or manufacturing also fit in the AM2 subtopic. Proposals focusing on the processing or manufacturing of photonic or optical materials are also appropriate for the AM2 subtopic. (Program Director: Steven Konsek; skonsek@nsf.gov

AM3. Materials for Energy Storage Applications
Material and device innovations for existing or novel energy storage techniques. Includes materials for batteries, capacitors, and supercapacitors. Proposals are encouraged which involve novel materials or processes with significant potential to reduce cost, improve safety and/or improve manufacturability. For proposals related to photovoltaics or other solar energy harvesting technologies, see the AM2 topic. (Program Director: Rajesh Mehta; rmehta@nsf.gov

AM4. Metals and Ceramics 
Material innovations to improve the performance and/or allow new functions in metallic and ceramic materials. ¬†This topic includes bulk materials (e.g. superalloys, ceramics, and composites) and coatings (e.g. thermal and environmental barrier coatings, and tribological coatings), as well as other morphologies (e.g. foams).¬† This subtopic also includes composites of metallic and ceramic materials (metal-matrix and ceramic-matrix composites). (Program Director: Ben Schrag; bschrag@nsf.gov

AM5. Structural Materials

Material and process innovations to improve the performance of materials in structural applications. Includes, but is not limited to, materials for civil infrastructure (e.g. cement, concrete, structural panels, etc.), and polymer composites for various applications. Refer to the BC topic for synthesis and process development of polymer materials. (Program Director: Ben Schrag; bschrag@nsf.gov

AM6. Coatings and Surface Modifications 

Material and process innovations in surface modifications and coatings. Includes coatings for improved corrosion and wear resistance, anti-microbial and anti-fouling coatings, surface modifications for specialized applications such as superhydrophobic or biologically/chemically active surfaces, and techniques to improve manufacturability and reduce cost. Refer to the AM4 topic for proposals related to inorganic coatings. (Program Director: Rajesh Mehta; rmehta@nsf.gov

AM7.  Multiferroics and Specialized Functional Materials 

Innovations related to multiferroics or other functional materials for specialized applications. Includes, but is not limited to, piezoelectrics, ferroelectrics, thermoelectrics, magnetostrictives, or electrochromics, shape memory alloys, ferrofluids, materials for high or low thermal conductivity applications, novel materials for active device or energy harvesting applications, and novel materials for sensor or actuator applications. (Program Director: Ben Schrag; bschrag@nsf.gov

AM8. Materials for Sustainability
Material innovations designed for improved sustainability, mitigating adverse environmental impacts, and/or improved public health.  Proposals are encouraged which involve new processes and techniques that allow for new or increased use of recycled, renewable, non-toxic and/or environmentally-benign materials. Proposals are also encouraged for new innovations which reduce overall energy consumption or waste. (Program Director: Ben Schrag; bschrag@nsf.gov


The Advanced Manufacturing subtopic aims to support all aspects of manufacturing innovations that have the potential to rejuvenate the nation's manufacturing sector and also improve its efficiency, competitiveness, and sustainability. Proposals should be driven by market needs and demand, and should identify the end users of the proposed technology, and also the proposed pathway to commercialization.

M1. Manufacturing Processes

Innovations in technologies such as molding, forging, casting, machining, and joining, for processing of variety of materials including metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites. Proposals are encouraged which lead to significantly improved efficiency (in terms of materials, energy, time, or money) and sustainability. The topic also includes on-line detection and/or control of defects in those processes.  (Program Director: Rajesh Mehta; rmehta@nsf.gov)

M2. Machines and Equipment
Innovative machines and equipment for applications in a range of advanced manufacturing operations for nano-, micro-, and macro-scale products, in all industries including manufacturing, construction, and recycling. Innovative equipment modification or retrofitting to enable manufacturing of completely new products is encouraged. (Program Director: Rajesh Mehta; rmehta@nsf.gov

M3. Modeling & Simulation
Innovations in modeling and simulation of enterprise operations, manufacturing processes for intermediate or finished products, machines and equipment, including predictive modeling of tooling and machine performance, and discrete event simulation of manufacturing systems. Innovative approaches that bring the benefits of cloud computing and/or big data analytics to the manufacturing sector are especially encouraged. Technologies enabling real-time prediction or optimization are also encouraged. (Program Director: Rajesh Mehta; rmehta@nsf.gov

M4. 3-D Additive Manufacturing

Innovations in processes or machines which permit manufacturing through a layering process to achieve intricate net-shape products. Proposals are encouraged which permit the manufacturing of complex multi-scale and/or multi-functional products for superior performance and productivity. (Program Director: Rajesh Mehta; rmehta@nsf.gov

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