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Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future (DMREF)

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NSF 23-530

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.

Supports the acceleration of materials design, discovery, and development through the integration of experiments, computation and theory. Focus areas include unifying infrastructure; harnessing data; and educating, training and connecting the R&D workforce.

Supports the acceleration of materials design, discovery, and development through the integration of experiments, computation and theory. Focus areas include unifying infrastructure; harnessing data; and educating, training and connecting the R&D workforce.


DMREF seeks to foster the design, discovery, and development of materials to accelerate their path to deployment by harnessing the power of data and computational tools in concert with experiment and theory. DMREF emphasizes a deep integration of experiments, computation, and theory; the use of accessible digital data across the materials development continuum; and strengthening connections among theorists, computational scientists (including data scientists), and experimentalists as well as those from academia, industry, and government. DMREF is committed to the education and training of a next-generation materials research and development (R&D) workforce that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive; well-equipped for successful careers as educators and innovators; and able to take full advantage of the materials development continuum and innovation infrastructures that NSF is creating with partners in other federal agencies.

DMREF is the principal NSF program responsive to the National Science and Technology Council’s (NSTC’s) Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Subcommittee on the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI). Over its inaugural decade, the MGI has driven a transformational paradigm shift in the philosophy of how materials research is performed. DMREF is supportive of the 2021 MGI Strategic Plan and its three primary goals, i.e., unifying the materials innovation infrastructure; harnessing the power of materials data; and educating, training, and connecting a world-class materials R&D workforce. 

DMREF will accordingly support activities that significantly accelerate the materials discovery-to-use timeline by building the fundamental knowledge base needed to advance the design, development, or manufacturability (i.e., properties relevant to manufacturing, process-property relationships, property performance metrics, potential pathways for scale-up, economic feasibility, supply chain considerations, or life cycle issues) of materials with desirable properties or functionality. The 2021 MGI Strategic Plan re-envisioned the linear Materials Development Continuum described in the original Strategic Plan to promote integration and iteration of knowledge across the entire path to deployment. DMREF will undertake this challenge through building a vibrant research community, forming interdisciplinary teams to conduct research in a “closed-loop” fashion, leveraging data science and machine learning, providing ready access to materials data, and educating the future MGI workforce.

This solicitation is open to all materials research topics. DMREF reflects the Administration’s priorities for strengthening American leadership in technologies and industries of the future that are critical to the nation’s health, economic prosperity, national security, and scientific enterprise. DMREF aligns with emerging technologies including artificial intelligence, quantum information science, semiconductors and microelectronics, advanced manufacturing, advanced communication technologies, and biotechnology. DMREF is supportive of OSTP’s multi-agency research and development priorities including clean energy technologies and infrastructure. Furthermore, DMREF aligns with national priorities for defense and homeland security, information technologies and high-performance computing, critical minerals and sustainability, and human health and welfare. DMREF supports the development of critical and emerging technologies as have been identified in a recent report by the NSTC.

In support of federal priorities, DMREF encourages efforts to promote diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility and advance environmental justice, across all R&D focus areas while building equitable science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce ecosystems for all learners and workers. When possible, activities should seek to encourage meaningful engagement with, and participation of, underserved communities and underrepresented groups in STEM. Aligning with Goal 3 of the 2021 MGI Strategic Plan, DMREF promotes diverse and inclusive education, training, and workforce development that can communicate across all components of the materials development continuum. Proposals led by or including Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs) are encouraged.

Projects proposed to this solicitation must be directed by a team of at least two Senior Personnel with complementary expertise. The proposed research must involve a collaborative and iterative 'closed-loop' process wherein theory guides computational simulation, computational simulation guides experiments, and experimental observation further guides theory. The integrated research activities could involve some combination of:

  • Strategies to advance fundamental knowledge related to materials design and manufacturability through testing methodology, which may include novel synthetic approaches, innovative processing, or advanced characterization techniques.
  • Theory, computation/simulation, and modeling that leverage machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), data mining, or sparse approximation to predict behavior or assist in simplifying the analysis of multidimensional input data.
  • Automated, high-throughput, and/or autonomous experimentation, including cyber-physical systems, that streamline and optimize the search of a materials space.
  • Validation through synthesis, growth, processing, characterization, and/or device demonstration.

This solicitation represents a crosscutting activity involving the Directorates for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), Engineering (ENG), Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE), and Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP). Additionally, partnership with other federal agencies may lead to an interagency effort. Submitted proposals may be shared with DMREF’s federal partners: Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy & Renewable Energy (EERE), Office of Naval Research (ONR), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the US Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC), or the Army Research Laboratory (ARL).

Awards are expected to range from $1,500,000 – $2,000,000 over a duration of four years.

Subject to the availability of funds, it is anticipated that the DMREF program will continue with competitions biennially in odd-numbered years.

Program contacts


AFRL/RX Contact:

Ruth Pachter, Senior Scientist, Air Force Research Laboratory, phone: (937)255-9689, email: Ruth.Pachter@us.af.mil


William Roach, Chief Scientist, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, phone: (703)215-6731, email: William.Roach.4@us.af.mil

DOE EERE Contact:

Eric Miller, Chief Scientist, Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Technologies Office, US Department of Energy – EERE, phone (202)431-3075, email: Eric.Miller@ee.doe.gov

ONR Contact:

Knox Millsaps, Department Head (Acting), Aviation, Force Projection and Integrated Defense, phone: (703)588-2962, email: knox.t.millsaps.civ@us.navy.mil

NIST Contact:

James A. Warren, Director Materials Genome Program, Materials Measurement Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, phone: (301)975-5708, email: james.warren@nist.gov

GVSC Contact:

David Gorsich, Chief Scientist, phone: (586)282-7413, email: david.j.gorsich.civ@army.mil

ARL Contact:

Adam Rawlett, Senior Research Scientist, phone: (410)306-0695, email: adam.m.rawlett.civ@army.mil

John Schlueter, Team Lead
jschluet@nsf.gov (703) 292-7766 MPS/DMR
Mohsen Asle Zaeem
mzaeem@nsf.gov (703) 292-4562 MPS/DMR
Marian Bocea
mbocea@nsf.gov (703) 292-2595 MPS/DMS
James Donlon
jdonlon@nsf.gov (703) 292-8074 CISE/IIS
Tiziana Giorgi
tgiorgi@nsf.gov (703) 292-8090
Yuliya Gorb
ygorb@nsf.gov (703) 292-2113 MPS/DMS
Andrey Kanaev
akanaev@nsf.gov (703) 292-2841 CISE/OAC
Eugenia Kharlampieva
ekharlam@nsf.gov (703) 292-4520 MPS/DMR
Thomas Kuech
tkuech@nsf.gov (703) 292-2218 ENG/CMMI
Robert McCabe
rmccabe@nsf.gov (703) 292-4826 ENG/CBET
Richard Nash
rnash@nsf.gov (703) 292-5394 ENG/ECCS
Siddiq Qidwai
sqidwai@nsf.gov (703) 292-2211 ENG/CMMI
Shahab Shojaei-Zadeh
sshojaei@nsf.gov (703) 292-8045 ENG/CBET
Leon Shterengas
lshteren@nsf.gov (703) 292-8987
Suk-Wah Tam-Chang
stamchan@nsf.gov (703) 292-8684 MPS/CHE
Ralph Wachter
rwachter@nsf.gov (703) 292-8950 CISE/CNS

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