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NSF 13-118

Dear Colleague Letter - Announcement of Instrumentation Fund to Provide Mid-Scale Instrumentation for FY2014 Awards in Physics Division

This document has been archived and replaced by NSF 14-116.

Date: August 8, 2013

One of the most critical needs of research projects funded through the Physics Division is that of having cutting-edge instrumentation that enables investigators to remain competitive in a rapidly-changing scientific environment. Because this instrumentation can often cost significantly beyond what an individual investigator award can provide, the Physics Division has established a special Mid-Scale Instrumentation Fund that enables Program Officers to include an instrumentation allotment in awards beyond the level that might be feasible otherwise.

This Fund does not constitute a separate program to which investigators can apply directly. Rather, anyone needing specialized equipment should request funding for that equipment as part of a regular proposal to a disciplinary program in the Division. The proposal will be reviewed by that program in accord with the standard NSF review criteria which, for more costly and complex requests, would include their project management plan. Should a funding recommendation be warranted, the Program Officer can request that the instrumentation funds be provided through the Mid-Scale Instrumentation Fund provided the PI has demonstrated that the instrumentation requested is essential to the completion of the project.

The Mid-Scale Instrumentation Fund is not designed to be used for all instrumentation purchases needed by the awardee. Rather, the Fund can only be accessed when the level needed exceeds the $4M limit of the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program. Resources from the Fund can only be used for the instrumentation portion of the overall activity. For any award utilizing resources from the Fund, all R&D and operating expenses for the instrumentation must be provided by disciplinary program funds or other sources.

Resources from the Mid-Scale Instrumentation Fund can be used for off-the-shelf purchases or for construction of specialized equipment. In the latter case, the construction must have a well-defined beginning, an explicit funding profile, and a well-defined completion point. Mid-Scale Instrumentation Fund resources are non-renewable and are intended to be one-time investments in the project.

PIs are encouraged to contact the cognizant Program Officer for the program to which the PI is applying prior to submission of a proposal that includes a mid-scale request. The names of these individuals are attached to the Program Descriptions for the respective programs on the Physics Division web page at

C. Denise Caldwell
Division Director, Division of Physics