Sensor Technology for the 21st Century

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This web page on sensor technology is designed to help sensor developers locate SBIR and/or STTR funding opportunities across federal agencies. The U.S. Government is a significant driver of sensor innovation: investing in low cost, portable, easy-to-use technologies to facilitate the collection of real time, reliable measurement information.
You may be surprised to see how many different SBIR and/or STTR research topics relate to sensor technology development. Federal agencies are supporting sensor research and development, purchasing and using sensors, making sensor data and data products available to the public, and investigating how application of sensor technologies can help accomplish the agencies’ goals. The information below will help you explore funding opportunities beyond the announcements you might normally investigate.

Some agencies allow Phase II application submissions from Phase I projects that were funded by a different agency, if the Phase I project is within the scope of the Phase II agency’s goals. The information presented in the table below may help you to identify such opportunities. provides additional information on federal funding opportunities as well as the federal grants lifecycle, policies on grants management, and profiles on grant-making agencies.

For more information, please review table below:

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

EPA seeks sensors that can detect Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act Priority Pollutants with high accuracy and precision, in real time, at low cost. These sensors should either be easily portable or deployable in the field for unattended operation. They should supplement, extend, or improve on existing methods to comply with regulatory requirements, or should make it possible for non-regulated parties (e.g. nonprofit organizations, small businesses, members of the public) to monitor their environment.


One solicitation annually. The 2018 Phase 1 Solicitation Should open Summer 2017: SBIR Funding Opportunities

For reference, the 2017 sensor topics were:


I. Air and Climate
Inexpensive Indoor Formaldehyde Sensor
Low-cost Sensor for Fugitive Methane Emissions

III. Toxic Chemicals
Technologies to Help Consumers Understand the Chemical Composition of Products

IV. Water
Simple Lead Test for Tap Water

Section I, D, Topic Code 1. (Page 10-11) Lab-on-a-chip sensors for organic pollutants in homes: Lab-on-a-chip sensors for very affordable, in-home, real-time, and continuous measurement and reporting of multiple (not single) organic contaminants at trace (parts per trillion) concentrations that can be easily deployed and results understood by the homeowner or resident.

1) Hand-Held Sensor for Carbon Dioxide

2) Handheld Microfluidic Device for Cyanobacteria Toxin Detection and Monitoring

3) Low-power, Small Form-factor Benzene Sensor for Mobile Devices-based Exposure Monitoring

4) Hand-held Portable Device to Detect VOCs in Water, Soil & Air Samples


April Richards;
Program Manager;

EPA SBIR Website:

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

NIST seeks advancement of sensor technology in areas of measurement and standards to support U.S. industry and trade.


One annual solicitation. FY 2018 Phase II solicitation is expected to open in January 2018.

Examples of topics in the FY 2017 solicitation include: Multichannel, Chemically Precise X-ray Pulse Processor Facilitating Security, Reliability, and Privacy in Networked Internet of Things (IoT) Devices



Mary Clague;
NIST SBIR Program Manager;

NIST SBIR Website:

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

NOAA seeks sensors for detecting and/or accurately and precisely measuring physical, chemical, and biological targets of interest in oceanic (including Great Lakes) and atmospheric systems to provide real- or near real-time data in support of the Agency’s mission to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts.


One solicitation annually. The most recent solicitation was issued on October 20, 2016 and will close January 25, 2017: Program Soicitation: NOAA2017-1.

The next solicitation is scheduled for October 2017 (FY18). No subtopics available to date.

Examples of subtopics in FY17 solicitation include:

SUBTOPIC:  A robust HCI detector to characterize global halogen cycles (8.1.3, pg. 57)

SUBTOPIC:  Seabed settling detection and measurement technique (8.2.5, pg. 63)

SUBTOPIC: Low Cost, High Precision Citizen Science Coastal and Ocean Monitoring Tools (8.3.3, pg. 70)

SUBTOPIC: Sensor for detecting the toxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (8.4.2, pg. 72)

The link above includes a more comprehensive list of subtopics.

Desert Star Systems LLC develops innovative  SeaTag: Electronic Tags of the Future


Vince Garcia,
Program Manager;

NOAA SBIR Website: http://www.techpartn...

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
US Department of Energy

DOE funds sensor R&D for a broad range of scientific instruments, for the production or delivery of energy, and for applications in nuclear security. Examples include radiation detection for the study of materials and fundamental particles, environmental monitoring to understand climate change and subsurface processes, process monitoring for oil and gas production, and systems for the recording, processing, storage, distribution, and analysis of experimental data.


DOE posts two Phase I funding opportunities each FY and offers a myriad of sensor R&D topics in both solicitations. Those topics can be found here:


Examples of topics in Release 1 and Release 2 FY17 funding opportunities include:

Release 1

19a. Real-Time, In Situ Measurements of Hydrobiogeochemical and Microbial Processes in Complex Subsurface Systems

24b. Front-End Application-Specific Integrated Circuits

24d. Next Generation Pixel Sensors

Release 2

17. Sensors and Controls for Fossil Energy Applications

27f. Radiation Hard CMOS Sensors for Detectors at High Energy Colliders

29a. Advanced Sensors and Instrumentation (Crosscutting Research)

A Diode Laser Sensor for High Precision CO2 and H2O Flux Measurements

Breakthrough Monitoring Technology Reduces Time and Expense in Solar Cell Manufacturing Process


Chris O’Gwin,

DOE SBIR Website:

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
National Science Foundation (NSF)

The NSF Small Business Innovation Research / Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program seeks to transform scientific discovery into societal and economic benefit by catalyzing private sector commercialization of technological innovations. The program increases the incentive and opportunity for startups and small businesses to undertake cutting-edge, high-quality scientific research and development.

NSF will support high-quality projects on important scientific, engineering, or science and engineering education problems and opportunities that could lead to significant commercial and public benefit if the research is successful.

The topics and subtopics guide the logistics of the review process but do not affect award decisions. In fact, NSF recognizes that innovation often can't be categorized. Therefore, proposals are accepted in any areas of technology that show promise of high commercial and societal impact, not just those listed at right and on the NSF website. Any sensor technology that is consistent with these goals would be eligible for funding through this program.


Typically two solicitations per year: one that opens in March with a June deadline, and one that opens in September with a December deadline.

Phase I solicitation closes June 14, 2017.


Current SBIR

Solicitation: NSF 17-544  Submission deadline - June 14, 2017

Current STTR

Solicitation: NSF 17-545  Submission deadline - June 14, 2017       

Smart Health (SH) 

Biomedical (BM) Technologies
SH4. Interoperability of Medical Sensors, Devices and Robotics

Biological Technologies (BT)
BT2. Biosensors

Chemical and Environmental Technologies (CT)
CT9. Resource and Water Conservation, Treatment and Reuse, Waste Minimization and Environmental Sustainability
CT10. Environmental Sensing, Environmental Pollution Control and Mitigation
CT12. Chemical Production Efficiency and Productivity

Electronic Hardware, Robotics and Wireless Technologies (EW)
Sensors (SE)
EP3. Smart Grids and Infrastructure

Internet of Things (I)
IoT1. IoT Sensors and Actuators
IoT4. IoT Integrated Systems

Semiconductors (S) and Photonic (PH) Devices and Materials
PH4. Advanced Metrology and Sensors

M6: Sustainable Manufacturing Technology
tools for the real-time analysis & optimization of system performance technologies (involving materials, sensors, devices, and control systems) that support smart infrastructures 

M7: Manufacturing Processes
on-line detection and control of defects

Food-safety testing gets a much-needed makeover

Self-assembled nanofibers sniff out explosives

Sensitive inline analyzers set to transform the cement industry


Peter Atherton
Information Technologies (IT)

Prakash Balan
Chemical Technologies (CT)

Glenn Larsen
Educational Technologies and Applications (EA)

Rajesh Mehta
Advanced Manufacturing and Nanotechnology (MN)

Murali Nair
Electronic Hardware, Robotics and Wireless Technologies (EW)

Ben Schrag

Other Topics (OT)

Ruth Shuman
Biological Technologies (BT)

Jesus Soriano
Smart Health (SH)


Anna Brady-Estevez
Environmental Technologies (CT)


Debasis Majumdar
Advanced Materials and Instrumentation (MI)


Rick Schwerdtfeger
Semiconductors (S) and Photonic (PH) Devices and Materials


Henry Ahn
Biomedical Technologies (BM)


Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) The mission of NIEHS is to discover how the environment affects people in order to promote healthier lives. NIEHS supports the development of sensors that can assess personal exposure in population studies using either networks of fixed site or wearable monitors that can measure exposure in real-time with high sensitivity and specificity and/or low cost.

NIEHS is also particularly interested in personal sensors that measure multiple analytes simultaneously or ones that pair exposure assessment with physiological response. NIEHS does not support sensors for ambient environmental monitoring.

The NIEHS Superfund Research Program supports sensors for real-time monitoring and detection of toxic chemicals in the environment that are of high relevance to Superfund or other hazardous waste sites (not interested in viruses, agricultural pollutants, petroleum etc).


Three solicitations annually.
Standard receipt dates:
    January 5
    April 5
    September 5

Upcoming funding opportunities can be found at

I. Exposure Assessment Tools

I. Exposure Assessment Tools

II. Nano Environmental Health and Safety
Sensors and Biomonitors

V. Superfund Research Program
Monitoring, Detection, and Site Characterization

1) Personal monitor for environmental volatile organic compounds (VOC)

2) Personal exposure monitoring device for the air pollutants as an educational tool

3) Gold nanoparticle-based sensor to measure mercury in liquid or aqueous samples (Superfund)

 4) Developments toward Low-Cost, Unattended Vapor Intrusion Monitoring (Superfund)

Daniel T. Shaughnessy, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator &
Program Lead.
Tel (919) 541-2506
Heather Henry, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator
Tel (919) 541-5330
NIEHS SBIR Website: /grants/mechanisms/sbir/
Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

The mission of the NIOSH is to generate new knowledge in the field of occupational safety and health and to transfer that knowledge into practice for the betterment of workers.

NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

NIOSH development and application of sensors addresses hazards and exposures ranging from noise, chemicals, and radiation to stress, ergonomics, and work flows. For all types of hazards in the workplace, the objective is to enable operators to anticipate and quickly identify potential overexposures and implement interventions to prevent these overexposures. In May 2014, NIOSH created the Center for Direct Reading and Sensor Technologies. The primary goals of the Center are to develop guidance for appropriate use, validation, and interpretation of direct reading and sensor technologies and will also focus on coordinating a national agenda for their effective application in occupational safety and health.


Current NIOSH extramural research grants in the area of sensors include biosensors for different chemical exposures, wearable monitors for a variety of work sites, monitors that can be used in exposure characterization studies for ultrafine and nanoparticles, and noise dosimeters.

The following NIOSH standing research announcement includes interests in sensors and sensor technologies:
ANNOUNCEMENT NO. PAR-13-129: Occupational Safety and Health Research (R01); Expiration Date: May 8, 2018.

Additional information about NIOSH SBIR funding opportunities can be found at:

Thermal precipitator description and success story from the NIOSH small grant (R03OH009381, 2008-2010) awarded to Prof. John Volckens (CSU)

Steve Dearwent, PhD, MPH
SBIR Grants Officer
NIOSH Office of Extramural Programs:

Tel: 404-498-6382

Mark D. Hoover, PhD, CHP, CIH
NIOSH Center for Direct Reading and Sensor Technologies:

Tel: 304-285-6374

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
U.S. Department of Agriculture

USDA seeks sensors and sensor networks that can provide high spatial resolution and temporal monitoring of specialty crops. Advances in controls, sensors, networks, and other information technologies that improve the quality and productivity of manufacturing cells, lines, systems, and facilities.


Two solicitations annually. Phase I RFAs are generally released every year in July with due dates in October. Phase II RFAs are generally released every year in December with due dates in February.

The most recent 2017 Phase I solicitation closed October 6, 2016:

Examples of topics in FY17 solicitation include:

8.13 Plant Production and Protection – Engineering (page 65)

Improved crop production methods or strategies that enhance the efficiency of crop production by utilizing innovative methods and equipment for planting, growing and harvesting crop plants, including optimization of inputs and reduction of operation costs by implementing the use of precision farming technology, robotics, sensors, information technology, and remote sensing, etc.

High resolution spatial and temporal monitoring of specialty crops to include technologies using sensors and sensor networks (for example, temperature, humidity, drought stress, pest damage, and disease).


Scott Dockum
Program Manager;

USDA SBIR Website:

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JSTO-CBD)

The Chemical and Biological Defense (CBD) SBIR and STTR Programs require sensor technologies for chemical and biological detection for both point and stand-off capabilities; medical diagnostics: disease surveillance/detection.

Technical challenges regarding chemical agents (and Toxic Industrial Chemicals) include low detection limits (parts per trillion/low parts per billion); low volatility compounds; sensor operation in harsh environments; Power, Size & Weight (SWaP) considerations; minimize false positive/false negative results; easy to interpret data; identify low target analyte concentrations within complex environmental backgrounds and matrices. Biological Threat Materials have a similar set of unique detection and identification challenges.


One announcement annually.

Topics are announced in November and announcements open in December and close in January.

The FY17 announcement opens on January 10, 2017 and closes on February 8, 2017.

View recent or upcoming solicitation: CBD SBIR and CBD STTR Announcements at: as well as

Approximately five to ten SBIR topics and one STTR topic annually based on available funding.

CBD171-001  Development of Solid-state Optical     Cooler Materials to Replace Conventional Cryocoolers Used for Cooling SWIR and LWIR Infrared Detectors and Focal-plane-arrays

CBD171-003   Tomographic Nanoscopy for Pathogen Identification

CBD171-004   Open-Path Optical Analyzer for Quantitative Chemical Weapons Detection

CBD171-005   Process Development and Manufacture of an Antibody-based Therapy Against Sudan Ebolavirus


Larry Pollack
Program Manager;

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

The NASA SBIR and STTR programs fund the research, development, and demonstration of innovative technologies that fulfill NASA needs and have significant potential for successful commercialization.

NASA is interested in a wide range of sensor technologies across its Aeronautics Research, Human Exploration and Operations, Science, and Space Technology Mission Directorates.

Sensors are sought for deployment in a wide range of environments including on satellites and space vehicles, in test chambers, in telescopes, in extreme environments, and on earth.


One solicitation annually. FY 2017 SBIR/STTR solicitation opened from November 17, 2016:

View the full list of FY16 topics: 

Examples of Sensor-related topics include:
A1.08 Aeronautics Ground Test and Measurements Technologies

A2.01 Flight Test and Measurements Technologies

H3.01 Environmental Monitoring

H5.03 Multifunctional Materials and Structures: Integrated Structural Health Monitoring for Long Duration Habitats

H6.01 Robotic Systems - Mobility, Manipulation, and Human-System Interaction

H6.03 Spacecraft Autonomy and Space Mission Automation for Consumables

H6.04 Integrating ISHM with Flight Avionics Architectures for Cyber-Physical Space Systems

H7.01 Ablative Thermal Protection Systems Technologies

H13.02 NDE Sensors

S1.01 Lidar Remote Sensing Technologies

S1.02 Microwave Technologies for Remote Sensing

S1.03 Sensor and Detector Technology for Visible, IR, Far IR and Submillimeter

S1.04 Detector Technologies for UV, X-Ray, Gamma-Ray and Cosmic-Ray Instruments

S1.05 Particles and Field Sensors and Instrument Enabling Technologies

S1.06 In-Situ Sensors and Sensor Systems for Lunar and Planetary Science

S1.07 Airborne Measurement Systems

S1.08 Surface & Sub-surface Measurement Systems

S1.09 Cryogenic Systems for Sensors and Detectors

S2.01 Proximity Glare Suppression for Astronomical Coronagraphy

S3.05 Guidance, Navigation and Control

S3.08 Slow and Fast Light

S4.01 Planetary Entry, Descent and Landing and Small Body Proximity Operation Technology

S4.04 Extreme Environments Technology

S4.05 Contamination Control and Planetary Protection

Z6.01 Wireless Technology


NASA SBIR Website:

NASA SBIR Program Contacts:
(301) 937 - 0888

Ames Research Center (ARC):
Dr. Ryszard Pisarski

Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC):
Mr. Mark Davis 

Ames Research Center (ARC):
Dr. Ryszard Pisarski

Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC):
Ramsey L. Smith

Joseph Famiglietti

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL):
Dr. Carol Lewis 

Johnson Space Center (JSC):
Ms. Kathryn Packard 

Kennedy Space Center (KSC):
Michael Vinje 

Langley Research Center (LaRC):
Ms. Kimberly Cannon 

Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC):
Ms. Gwen Jasper

Stennis Space Center (SSC):
Mr. Thomas M. Stanley


Last Updated on December 12, 2016

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