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Electronics, Information and Communication Technologies (EI)
Proposal Due Date: December 03, 2012

Murali Nair (mnair@nsf.gov)
Juan Figueroa (jfiguero@nsf.gov)
Glenn Larsen (glarsen@nsf.gov)

Administrative Information

The required one-page project summary should discuss the intellectual merit and broader impacts in two separate paragraphs (<200 words per paragraph):

  • 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 it would lead ultimately to revenue generation. It is important that the proposed technology increase the competitive capability of industry, be responsive to societal needs, and is 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 for proposals being submitted to this solicitation. 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 may exist should the technology prove feasible. The letter(s) must contain affiliation and contact information for the signatory stakeholder.

Importance of Communication with Program Officer

A company considering a proposal submission is encouraged to communicate (via email) with the cognizant program officer to help gauge the responsiveness to the solicitation (the cognizant program officer is indicated at the end of each subtopic). When contacting the cognizant program officer, please provide a brief not to exceed two page executive summary with background on the: 1) company/team including experience with previous SBIR awards, 2) market opportunity, 3) technology/innovation and 4) competition. You may contact the program officer via email at any time before the submission deadline. Note, however, that communication with the program officer will become increasingly difficult as the deadline nears.

Electronics, Information and Communication Technologies (EI)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program seeks state-of-the-art, high-risk, high-potential innovation research proposals in the area of Electronics, Information and Communication Technologies. These proposals should seek to provide economic and technological benefits that will motivate their successful adoption in the commercial marketplace.

The NSF SBIR Program conceptualizes Electronics, Information and Communication Technologies in the form of a five-layer stack. Each layer of the stack builds upon the layer(s) below and supports the layer(s) above. At the foundation of this stack are devices. Devices (ED) are the building blocks for Components (EC) that are assembled into Systems (ES) built for Applications (IA) that are employed to deliver Services (IS). Innovations across the stack can range widely, and hardware as well as software innovations will be supported. Considering the two ends of the stack, device innovations will typically employ unique physical phenomena for their competitive advantage and be embodied in hardware, whereas innovations in services will typically be more architectural in nature and be embodied in software.

Proposals must address one of the subtopics that are outlined below. Proposals that are not responsive to the subtopics outlined below will be returned without review. When submitting a proposal to the EI Topic, code the proposal to the corresponding subtopic under which you are submitting the proposal, e.g., ES5 for proposals in the area of "Robotics". In addition, use the same code as the first item in the key words/phrases portion of the Project Summary of your proposal. 

IS. Services

Enterprises large and small, for-profit and non-profit, must respond to customer needs, manage internal activities, and adapt to competitive market pressures much more rapidly than at any other period in human history. Enterprises that effectively and efficiently combine computing, communication, services and business process advances become leaders in their respective markets. These developments have created significant commercial opportunities for software that support the following areas: (Cognizant Program Officer: Murali Nair mnair@nsf.gov)

  • IS1. Security and Privacy 
  • IS2. Knowledge Discovery, Search, Data Mining, “Big Data” Management and/or Visualization
  • IS3. Digital Arts 
  • IS4. Financial Services
  • IS5. Personalized User Services 
  • IS6. Virtualization
  • IS7. Cyber-Physical Systems: engineered systems that are built from and depend upon the synergy of computational and physical components (e.g. smart electric grid, smart transportation, smart buildings, next-generation air traffic management)  

IA. Applications

Advancements in applications provide value by enabling increased user productivity or enhanced quality of life. Examples of previous innovations in applications include: the spreadsheet, email and web browser. Software innovations (for both consumer and enterprise applications) that enable significant business opportunities in the following areas will be supported under this solicitation:

  • IA1. Mobile Applications (Cognizant Program Officer: Murali Nair mnair@nsf.gov)
  • IA2. Tools for Facilitating Collective Intelligence (Cognizant Program Officer: Glenn Larsen glarsen@nsf.gov)
  • IA3. Peer-To-Peer Applications (Cognizant Program Officer: Glenn Larsen glarsen@nsf.gov)
  • IA4. Broadband-enabled Applications (Cognizant Program Officer: Glenn Larsen glarsen@nsf.gov)
  • IA5. Collaboration-enabled Applications (Cognizant Program Officer: Glenn Larsen glarsen@nsf.gov)
  • IA6. Design/Test Software for Components/Devices (Cognizant Program Officer: Murali Nair mnair@nsf.gov)
  • IA7. Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv.6) applications (Cognizant Program Officer: Murali Nair mnair@nsf.gov) 
  • IA8. High Performance Computing: weather and climate research, clean and sustainable energy, automotive and aerospace design, bio-life sciences, particle physics, cloud computing, modeling of new materials, and ultrahigh-performance (exascale) software applications across a wide spectrum of disciplines, along with hardware innovations (Cognizant Program Officer: Murali Nair mnair@nsf.gov) 

ES. Systems

Systems' innovations combine multiple sub-elements and components together to enable the delivery of new value. Examples of previous systems innovations include the MP3 player, the artificial heart and the radio telescope. Software and hardware that enable significant, differentiable business opportunities in the following areas will be supported under this solicitation:

  • ES1. Human Computer Interfaces (Cognizant Program Officer: Murali Nair mnair@nsf.gov)
    • Applications employing speech, touch, vision or biometric technologies
    • Spoken language systems - conversational dialog management, semantic language analysis or interpretation
  • ES2. Virtual/Mixed Reality Environments (Cognizant Program Officer: Glenn Larsen glarsen@nsf.gov)
  • ES3. Human Assistive Technologies (Cognizant Program Officer: Murali Nair mnair@nsf.gov)
    • To support the physical and educational needs of individuals with disabilities – e.g. vision, hearing, cognitive, motor related
  • ES4. Wireless Systems (Cognizant Program Officer: Juan Figueroa jfiguero@nsf.gov)
    • Reconfigurable wireless systems including cognitive radio, software-defined radio, adaptive antennas
    • Minimal interference, graceful degradation wireless systems
    • Hardware solutions to security in wireless systems
    • Ultra-compact, low cost systems
    • For advances in healthcare delivery
    • Sensor based systems
    • Broadband systems
    • Nanotube RFID
    • Spectral efficiency (“instantaneous” such as mitigation of unwanted emissions, interference cancellation, filter technology…), “system-wide,” such as dynamic spectrum access/sharing
    • Special-purpose wireless systems, such as medical devices, environmental surveillance, remote sensing, passive systems
    • Legacy: Backwards and forwards interoperability
    • Wireless system tests, measurements, and validation
  • ES5. Robotics (Cognizant Program Officer: Murali Nair mnair@nsf.gov)
    • Improved time imaging, visualization, dexterity and manipulation
    • Haptic, real-time and bio-inspired feedback
    • Semi-autonomous tele-robotics
    • Naturally inspired, biomimetic, neuromechanical robotics
    • Precision agriculture robotics
    • Robotics in healthcare (robotic prosthesis, robot-assisted rehab, miniature robotics, high throughput technologies – imaging, screening of drugs, surgical procedures)
    • Concepts for protecting human hands (in various extreme environmental conditions)
    • Robotics in agile manufacturing
    • Robotics in education
    • Anthropomorphic (human-shaped) robots
    • 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
  • ES6. Energy and Power Management Systems (Cognizant Program Officer: Juan Figueroa jfiguero@nsf.gov)
    • Electronic systems for energy efficiency and conservation, smart grids, smart meters, and smart buildings
    • Electronic systems for portable energy sources for mobile technologies and off-grid type applications
    • Power management systems for energy scavenging/harvesting and compact energy conversion systems
    • Interface devices between batteries and super-capacitors
    • Novel voltage conversion, micro-inverters and DC-DC voltage converters
    • Compact hi-voltage, hi-power systems
  • ES7. Scientific Instrumentation (Cognizant Program Officer: Juan Figueroa jfiguero@nsf.gov)
    • Astronomical
    • Geophysical
    • Instrumentation in support of other areas of scientific and engineering research (for related subtopics refer to N5: Instrumentation for Nanotechnology and BT5: Bioinstrumentation)
    • New generation of highly precise measuring equipment for quantum computing, advanced energy systems like hydrogen fuel cells, medical devices, drug delivery systems, environmental protection, information technology, automotive, additive manufacturing etc.
  • ES8. Optoelectronic Systems (Cognizant Program Officer: Juan Figueroa (jfiguero@nsf.gov)
    • Imaging and display systems
    • Plastic logic devices/displays
    • Superluminal computing
    • All-optical processing/computing
    • Novel application of hybrid systems
  • ES9. Engineering Systems (Cognizant Program Officer: Murali Nair mnair@nsf.gov)
  • ES10. 3-D Printing
    • Stereolithography
    • Laser sintering
    • Fused deposition modeling
  • ES11. Medical Imaging Technologies Proposed projects might include but are not limited to novel or improved imaging techniques for localization and diagnosis of infectious events, imaging technologies for the detection and localization of cancer, detection and/or imaging agents (Cognizant Program Officer: Juan Figueroa jfigueroa@nsf.gov)

EC. Components

Components represent basic building blocks for most engineered systems. By themselves, components are not typically consumed by end-users and they must be assembled together with other components to provide complete solutions. Examples of previous component innovations include: Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS)-based accelerometers, Sigma-Delta Analog to Digital Converters (ADC) and Optical Add-Drop Multiplexer (OADM). Hardware that enables significant, differentiable business opportunities in the following component areas will be supported under this solicitation:

  • EC1. High Performance Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS)-enabled applications (Cognizant Program Officer: Juan Figueroa jfigueroa@nsf.gov)
  • EC2. Optoelectronic Components (Cognizant Program Officer: Juan Figueroa jfiguero@nsf.gov)
    • Light generation
    • Lighting components
    • Light processing, control and transformation
  • EC3. Sensors (Cognizant Program Officer: Murali Nair mnair@nsf.gov)
    • Sensor-based smart transportation
    • Environmental sensing (for related subtopics refer to ET1: Water Monitoring and Treatment, ET2: Air and Soil Monitoring and Mitigation, and BT3: Biosensors)
    • Electrical/magnetic/optical/physical sensors
    • Acoustic emission monitoring
    • Body-area sensors/actuators for real-time, closed-loop health monitoring
    • Wireless sensors and wireless detection of sensor I/O
  • EC4. Packaging and Thermal Management (Cognizant Program Officer: Murali Nair mnair@nsf.gov)
  • EC5. Radio Frequency (RF) Components (Cognizant Program Officer: Murali Nair mnair@nsf.gov)
    • Millimeter wave/terahertz technologies, applications and products
    • Ultra-compact, all-integrated RF components
    • Anti-counterfeiting labels/seals

ED. Devices

Novel devices employ unique physical principles that enable broad advances in technology and industry. They often represent fundamental scientific and technological building blocks that require significant integration with other advanced technologies to provide commercial value. Examples of previous innovations in the device field include: the transistor, the thermocouple and Light Emitting Devices (LED). Hardware that enables significant, differentiable business opportunities in the following device areas will be supported under this solicitation:

  • ED1. Optoelectronic Devices (Cognizant Program Officer: Juan Figueroa jfiguero@nsf.gov)
    • Light detection devices
    • Novel photonic devices (light emitters; photo detectors)
    • Optical chips
  • ED2. Integrated Circuit Design (Cognizant Program Officer: Murali Nair mnair@nsf.gov)
    • Novel device or chip architectures
    • Self-assembling chips
    • Dense ICs and high power electronics integration
    • Transparent/flexible/molecular electronic devices
    • Ultra-low-power and ultra-high-power semiconductors
    • Single-die integrated precision analog/dense digital
    • Intelligent/adaptive/smart chips
    • Novel I/O
    • Interfacing and galvanic isolation
    • Test techniques to improve chip design and manufacturability
    • Multi-core computers
    • Hierarchical hardware architectures
  • ED3. Other Novel Devices (Cognizant Program Officer: Murali Nair mnair@nsf.gov)
    • Quantum-effect devices; quantum computing
    • Wearable computers
    • Flexible electronics
    • Spintronic devices
    • Ferro-magnetic devices – conformal antennas; memory; nano-motors
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