NSF 98-20

NSF Announcement

Partnership in Nanotechnology:
Synthesis, Processing, and Utilization of
Functional Nanostructures (FNS)


Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO)
Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE)
Directorate for Engineering (ENG)
Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS)

Deadline date: February 17, 1998


Four Directorates of the National Science Foundation (NSF) announce a collaborative initiative on research in nanotechnology, with a focus on functional nanostructures. The goal of the initiative is to catalyze synergistic, small-group, interdisciplinary, science and engineering research in emerging areas of nanotechnology, by combining resources from the participating programs to support coordinated research activities.


"Functional nanostructures" are structures that have at least one characteristic dimension in the range from molecular to 50 nm; they are conceived and constructed for a function (device or structural application or effect) that develops in that size range. Nanotechnology here means technology that arises from the exploitation of physical, chemical and biological properties of systems that are intermediate in size between isolated atoms/molecules and bulk materials, where phenomena length scales become comparable to the size of the structure. The discovery of novel phenomena and processes at the ‘nano’ scale (1-50 nm) and the development of new experimental and theoretical tools in the last few years for investigating these structures provides fresh opportunities for scientific and technology developments in nanoparticles, nanostructured materials and nanodevices.

This initiative encourages team approaches to functional nanostructures research in the belief that a synergistic blend of expertise is needed to make major headway. Theoretical modeling, synthesis, processing with a focus on building up from molecules and nanoprecursors, utilization, and characterization of structure and properties are components of this activity. Hence, this initiative has the aim of fostering interactions among physical, mathematical, chemical, biological and engineering disciplines by encouraging small groups of experts (up to 4 principal investigators) in these different fields. The initiative will support research on new concepts and methods for the generation of functional nanostructures, including synthesis and processing of nanoparticles and other precursor structures, self-assembly techniques, supramolecular chemistry, electronically and chemically functional structures, creation of bio-templates and sensors, "smart" materials and films, and fabrication of nanostructured materials, nanocomponents and nanodevices with unusual properties. The initiative does not include routine measurements research, conventional lithography, or purchase of large experimental facilities.

The NSF’s mission is to promote the progress of science, engineering and education in the United States. Its role in supporting research and education is particularly important in creating infrastructure in emerging areas such as nanotechnology. NSF also promotes partnerships, including collaboration with other agencies and national laboratories for projects of mutual interest. International collaborations with centers of excellence abroad are encouraged. Proposals should discuss effective ways in which education and training is integrated within the research program.

This initiative’s focus is on four high-risk/high-gain research areas, where special windows of opportunity exist for fundamental studies in synthesis, processing, and utilization of functional nanostructures:

Funding for this initiative is derived from a coordination of existing resources from those programs within NSF that traditionally have supported research in nanoscience and nanotechnology. Total award size per project is anticipated to be between $300,000 and $700,000 with duration of up to three years, depending upon the nature of the research activity. Subject to the availability of funds, the participating programs have designated approximately $10 million for a total of about 20 awards in this competition in FY98.

The Announcement and additional information concerning related activities such as workshops and publications, are available on-line at http://www.nsf.gov/nano. A grantees’ conference will review the progress of the projects and promote collaborations at the end of the second year, and an investigator from each project will be required to participate.


Proposals must be submitted by academic institutions with undergraduate and Ph.D. programs. Principal investigators are encouraged to form synergistic collaborations with other researchers and collaborations or partnerships with industry or government where appropriate, though no funds will be provided to those organizations. Collaborations between university and industrial researchers using the approach of the GOALI initiative (Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry, NSF 97-116, http://www.nsf.gov/goali) are encouraged. Due to the limited research focus, prospective applicants are strongly urged to contact one of the program officers of the participating programs listed at the end of this document for guidance.

An applicant may participate on no more than one proposal. An institution (university, campus of a multi-campus university) may submit no more than two proposals in response to this solicitation, plus a third for collaborative projects involving another university or campus. The Authorized Organizational Representative of that institution will make the selection of the proposals that are submitted. Group and collaborative proposals involving more than one institution must be submitted as a single administrative package from one of the institutions involved.


Proposals submitted in response to this Announcement must be prepared in accordance with the instructions provided in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) (NSF 98-2) and Proposal Forms Kit (NSF 98-3). These guides are available in most university offices of sponsored research. Single copies of the GPG brochure and other NSF publications referenced in this announcement are available at no cost from: NSF Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 218, Jessup, MD 20794-0218; Phone: 301-947-2722; e-mail: pubs@nsf.gov. The NSF publications may also be accessed through the NSF web page at: http://www.nsf.gov.

Page limitation guidelines will be strictly adhered to. The total funding for each project, for all investigators and all institutions, must not exceed $700,000.

Proposals must reference this program announcement number and name (NSF 98- 20, Functional Nanostructures; Attn: CTS/Room 525/M.C. Roco, Initiative Coordinator) in the upper left corner of the proposal cover sheet. Fifteen stapled copies of each proposal/proposal package, including one bearing original signatures from all institutions should be mailed to:

Announcement No. NSF 98-20
National Science Foundation
Room P60 - PPU
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230.

An applicant who is submitting a proposal in response to this initiative using paper copies rather than electronic submission is required to prepare and submit the cover sheet using NSF FastLane. This will facilitate tracking the proposal. Instructions are enclosed (Appendix 1).

Proposals must be received at NSF no later than 5:00 pm EST on February 17, 1998. Proposals are encouraged to be submitted electronically via FastLane. For those submitted by FastLane, the signed cover page must arrive at NSF by February 24, 1998. For information, contact FastLane user support services (tel: 703-306-1142; fastlane@nsf.gov).


Proposals that do not adhere to Initiative Description requirements (topic, interdisciplinary, total budget, deadline, format including page limit) will be returned without review. Responsive proposals will be evaluated in accordance with the new NSF merit review criteria (see Appendix 2). In addition, the evaluation will include the objectives of this initiative:

Proposal evaluation will be by panel review. Additional ad-hoc reviews may be obtained in some cases. The new NSF merit review criteria will be utilized. Panel recommendations will be considered by NSF program officers from the participating programs listed below (see Inquiries) in making funding decisions.


NSF grants will be administered in accordance with the terms and conditions of NSF GC-1, "Grant General Conditions," or FDP-III, "Federal Demonstration Partnership General Terms and Conditions," depending on the grantee organization. The grantee program will be determined as a function of the research and education activities. More comprehensive information on the administration of NSF grants is contained in the Grant Policy Manual (NSF 95-26).


Questions concerning this joint initiative should be addressed, preferably via e-mail, to the program director in the appropriate area of research and education. The participating divisions and disciplinary programs supporting research in Functional Nanostructures are:


Division of Chemical and Transport Systems
M.C. Roco, mroco@nsf.gov , 703-306-1370; G. Poehlein, gpoehlei@nsf.gov ; R. Wellek, rwellek@nsf.gov

Particulate and Multiphase Processes; Fluid Dynamics and Hydraulics
Interfacial, Transport and Separation Processes
Chemical Reaction Processes
Thermal Systems

Division of Electrical and Communication Systems
R.P. Khosla, rkhosla@nsf.gov , 703-306-1339

Physical Foundations of Enabling Technologies
Knowledge Modeling and Computational Intelligence
Integrative Systems

Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Systems
G. Vermont, gvermont@sf.gov , 703-306-1320; F.G. Heineken, fheineke@nsf.gov ; G. Devey, gdevey@nsf.gov

Biochemical Engineering
Biomedical Engineering

Division of Civil and Mechanical Systems
J. Larsen-Basse, jlarsenb@nsf.gov, 703-306-1360 ; S. Saigal, ssaigal@nsf.gov; K. Chong, kchong@nsf.gov


Division of Design, Manufacture and Industrial Innovation
D. Durham, ddurham@nsf.gov, 703-306-1330

Materials Processing and Manufacturing


Division of Materials Research
B. MacDonald, bmacdona@nsf.gov , 703-306-1835

Programs in Metals, Ceramics and Electronic Materials, Condensed Matter Physics, Solid-State Chemistry and Polymers, and Materials Theory

Division of Chemistry
D. Burland, dburland@nsf.gov , 703-306-1854; J. Osteryoung, josteryo@nsf.gov , 703-306-1845

All programs in the Division

Division of Physics
D. Caldwell, dcaldwel@nsf.gov, 703-306-1807

Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics

Division of Mathematics
M. Steuerwalt, msteuerw@nsf.gov, 703-306-1878

Computational Mathematics


Division of Biological Infrastructure
L. Makowski, lmakowsk@nsf.gov , 703-306-1472

Computational Biology
Instrumentation Development and Multiuser Biological Equipment


Division of Microelectronic and Information Processing Systems
M.J. Foster, mfoster@nsf.gov , 703-306-1936

Microelectronics Systems Architecture


The Foundation provides awards for research and education in the sciences and engineering. The awardee is wholly responsible for the conduct of such research and preparation of the results for publication. The Foundation, therefore, does not assume responsibility for the research findings or their interpretation.

The Foundation welcomes proposals from all qualified scientists and engineers and strongly encourages women, minorities, and persons with disabilities to compete fully in any of the research and education related programs described here. In accordance with federal statutes, regulations, and NSF policies, no person on grounds of race, color, age, sex, national origin, or disability shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving financial assistance from the National Science Foundation.

Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED) provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities (investigators and other staff, including student research assistants) to work on NSF projects. See the program announcement or contact the program coordinator at (703) 306-1636.

Privacy Act. The information requested on the proposal forms is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. It will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals and may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the review process; to applicant institutions/grantees; to provide or obtain data regarding the application review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers, and researchers as necessary to complete assigned work; and to other government agencies in order to coordinate programs. See Systems of Records, NSF 50, Principal Investigators/Proposal File and Associated Records, and NSF-51, 60 Federal Register 4449 (January 23, 1995), Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records, 59 Federal Register 8031 (February 17, 1994).

Public Burden. Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of your receiving an award.

The public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Gail A. McHenry, Reports Clearance Officer, Information Dissemination Branch, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 245, Arlington, VA 22230.

The National Science Foundation has TDD (Telephonic Device for the Deaf) capability, which enables individuals with hearing impairment to communicate with the Foundation about NSF programs, employment, or general information. To access NSF TDD, dial (703) 306-0090; for FIRS, 1-800-877-8339.

Appendix 1: Instructions for Submission of Cover Sheets of FNS Proposals Using NSF FastLane

If you are submitting your FNS proposal using paper copies rather than electronically, you are required to submit the proposal cover sheet to NSF using FastLane. To access FastLane, go to the NSF Web Site at http://www.nsf.gov, then select "FastLane" or go directly to FastLane at http://www.fastlane.nsf.gov.

Instructions for the Principal Investigator (PI):

 Instructions for the Sponsored Research Office:

 Appendix 2: NSF Merit Review Criteria

Proposals submitted in response to this program announcement will be subject to the NEW merit criteria approved by the National Science Board on March 28, 1997 (NSB97-72). The new merit review criteria are:

The following are suggested questions that the reviewer will consider in assessing how well the proposal meets this criterion. Each reviewer will address only those questions that he/she considers relevant to the proposal and for which he/she is qualified to make judgments.

How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field and across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources?

The following are suggested questions that the reviewer will consider in assessing how well the proposal meets this criterion. Each reviewer will address only those questions that he/she considers relevant to the proposal and for which he/she is qualified to make judgments.

How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits for the proposed activity to society?

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance:
47.041 - Engineering
47.049 - Mathematical and Physical Sciences
47.074- Biological Sciences
47.070- Computer and Information Science and Engineering

OMB 3145-0058
PT 34
KW 0605000, 0606000, 0607000, 0608000, 0609000, 0710015, 0706000, 1001000, 1003000, 1004000, 1009000, 1010000, 1013000, 1016000, 1220000, 1250000

NSF 98-20
(Electronic Dissemination Only)