Please Note that a Letter of Intent is due Tuesday, September 05, 2017


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 in operando 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 sample environment temperature and pressure control to extend 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, dynamics and surface structure of 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

There is a strong need to develop commercial instrumentation for advanced sample environment and temperature control for scanning near-field optical microscopy (SNOM) and nanometer-scale infrared (IR) spectroscopy. To date all commercial scanning near field optical microscopes are benchtop units that have a very limited temperature range of -20 to 80oC and little environmental control other than small purge enclosures. New developments are needed to accurately understand the dynamics and surface structure of a material in operando under chemical reaction conditions or in extreme environments. The development of an ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) system coupled with SNOM and nanoscale IR techniques would provide temperature control ranging from cryogenic temperatures to temperatures in excess of 700 oC and environmental control ranging from UHV (<1 x 10-7 Torr) to 1 atmosphere or above. By cooling to cryogenic temperatures it should be feasible to significantly improve the spatial resolution to the single digit nanometer scale, well below the current spatial resolution of 10-30 nm of the most advanced commercial systems.

Grant applications are sought that make significant advancements in SNOM nanoscale IR spectroscopy by providing high spatial resolution over a wide temperature range and pressures from UHV to greater than1 atm. The improved resolution, temperature and environmental control will yield information that is valuable to a variety of scientific fields of research.

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. U.S. Department of Energy, 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, p. 78.
  1. U.S. Department of Energy, BESAC Subcommittee on Mesoscale Science, 2012, From Quanta to the Continuum: Opportunities for Mesoscale Science, A Report for the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee Masoscale Science Subcommittee, p. 86.
  2. U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Instrumentation Science-Driving the Invention of Novel Experimental Tools to Accelerate Scientific Discovery, Basic Research Needs for Transformative Experimental Tools Report, p.
  1. U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, 2016, Basic Research Needs for Synthesis Science for Energy Relevant Technologies, Basic Research Needs for Synthesis Science, p. 178.                        

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