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Please Note that a Letter of Intent is due Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Program Area Overview


The Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) supports fundamental research to understand, predict, and ultimately control matter and energy at the electronic, atomic, and molecular levels in order to provide the foundations for new energy technologies and to support DOE missions in energy, environment, and national security. The results of BES-supported research are routinely published in the open literature.


A key function of the program is to plan, construct, and operate premier scientific user facilities for the development of novel nanomaterials and for materials and chemical characterization through x-ray and neutron scattering; the former is accomplished through five Nanoscale Science Research Centers and the latter is accomplished through the world's largest suite of light source and neutron scattering facilities. These national resources are available free of charge to all researchers based on the quality and importance of proposed nonproprietary experiments.


A major objective of the BES program is to promote the transfer of the results of our basic research to advance and create technologies important to Department of Energy (DOE) missions in areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy resources, improved use of fossil fuels, the mitigation of the adverse impacts of energy production and use, and future nuclear energy sources. The following set of technical topics represents one important mechanism by which the BES program augments its system of university and laboratory research programs and integrates basic science, applied research, and development activities within the DOE.


For additional information regarding the Office of Basic Energy Sciences priorities, click here.


Maximum Phase I Award Amount: $150,000

Maximum Phase II Award Amount: $1,000,000

Accepting SBIR Applications: YES

Accepting STTR Applications: YES

The Department of Energy seeks to advance optical nanoprobe technologies that facilitate fundamental research to understand, predict, and ultimately control matter and energy at the electronic, atomic, and molecular levels. The Department is particularly interested in forefront advances in imaging and analysis techniques that combine nanometer-scale through micron-scale spatial resolution, optical excitation and spectroscopic detection over a large wavelength range. Time-dependent phenomena at nanoscale dimensions are important and tools are needed to explore energy flow, exciton dynamics and charge transport in nanoscale materials, nanostructures and assemblies of nanostructures for use in present and future energy applications. Grant applications that do not fall within the topic will not be considered.


Grant applications are sought in the following subtopics:

a. High Spatial Resolution Nanometer Scale Optical Spectroscopy

Information on carrier transport and dynamics phenomena associated with materials and nanostructures is often available from optical spectroscopies involving interactions with electromagnetic radiation ranging from the infrared spectrum to ultraviolet. Fast laser technologies can provide temporally resolved chemical information via optical spectroscopy or laser-assisted mass sampling techniques. These approaches provide time resolution ranging from the breakage or formation of chemical bonds to conformational changes in nanoscale systems but generally lack the simultaneous spatial resolution required to analyze individual molecules or nanostructures.

Grant applications are sought that make significant advancements in spatial resolution towards the single-nanometer for spectroscopic imaging instrumentation available to the research scientist. The nature of the advancement may span a range of approaches including sub-diffraction limit illumination or detection, selective sampling, and coherent or holographic signal analysis. Conventional Nearfield Scanning Optical Microscopy (NSOM) probes and techniques do not have sufficient spatial resolution, spectral range and optical coupling efficiency. An optical tip technology is needed that is potentially scalable to manufacturing, and will yield low-cost, high performance, robust instruments that are affordable by the larger scientific community. 27

Questions – Contact: George Maracas,  


b. Other

In addition to the specific subtopics listed above, the Department invites grant applications in other areas that fall within the scope of the topic description above.

Questions – Contact: George Maracas,  



1.     BESAC Subcommittee, 2015, Challenges at the Frontiers of Matter and Energy: Transformative Opportunities for Discovery Science, A Report from the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee. (  


2.     BESAC Subcommittee, 2012, From Quanta to the Continuum: Opportunities for Mesoscale Science, A Report for the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee Masoscale Science Subcommittee. (


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