Abstract collage of science-related imagery


Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived. See PD 20-7909 for the latest version.

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.


The Nano-Biosensing program supports fundamental engineering research on devices and methods for measurement and quantification of biological analytes. Proposals that incorporate emerging nanotechnology methods are especially encouraged. Areas of interest include:

  • Proposals on multi-purpose sensor platforms that exceed the performance of current state-of-the-art measurement methods.  
  • Projects on novel transduction mechanisms and sensor designs suitable for measurement in practical matrix and sample-preparation free approaches. These include error-free detection of pathogens and toxins in food matrices, waterborne pathogens, parasites, toxins, biomarkers in body fluids, and others.
  • Proposals that address highly selective bio-recognition elements which exhibit zero false negative responses.
  • Nano-biosensors that enable measurement of kinetics and thermodynamics of biomolecular interactions in their native states, transmembrane transport, intracellular transport, and other biological phenomena.
  • Fundamental studies on surface functionalization and immobilization of bio-recognition molecules, orientation, activity, stability and effectiveness at biosensor interfaces.

It is important to address why the proposed work is important, and project the potential impact on society and/or industry.  The novelty or potentially transformative nature of the research should be included in the Project Summary.  The program does not support applications with incremental improvements of existing approaches and technologies.  Projects that do not include experimental characterization of sensor responses to biological analytes are discouraged.  

Innovative proposals outside of the above specific interest areas may be considered.  However, prior to submission, it is recommended that the PI contact the Program Director to avoid the possibility of the proposal being returned without review.

NOTE: Projects that have a commonality with water quality may be jointly supported by the Environmental Engineering program (CBET 1440). Photonic nanosensors with medical applications should be submitted to Biophotonics (CBET 7236).

The duration of unsolicited awards is generally one to three years.  The typical award size for the program is around $100,000 per year.  Proposals requesting a substantially higher amount than this, without prior consultation with the Program Director, may be returned without review.  


Proposals should address the novelty and/or potentially transformative nature of the proposed work compared to previous work in the field.  Also, it is important to address why the proposed work is important in terms of engineering science, as well as to also project the potential impact on society and/or industry of success in the research.  The novelty or potentially transformative nature of the research should be included, as a minimum, in the Project Summary of each proposal.

Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program proposals are strongly encouraged.  Award duration is five years.  The submission deadline for Engineering CAREER proposals is in July every year. Please see the CAREER URL here for more information. 

Proposals for Conferences, Workshops, and Supplements: PIs are strongly encouraged to discuss their requests with the Program Director before submission of the proposal.

Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID) and EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) are also considered when appropriate.  Please note that proposals of these types must be discussed with the program director before submission.  Further details are available in the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) download found here.  Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) proposals that integrate fundamental research with translational results and are consistent with the application areas of interest to each program are also encouraged.  Please note that GOALI proposals must be submitted during the annual unsolicited proposal window for each program. More information on GOALI can be found here.

COMPLIANCE: Proposals which are not compliant with the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) will be returned without review.

Unsolicited proposals received outside of the Announced Proposal Window dates will be returned without review.

Program contacts

Rajakkannu Mutharasan
rmuthara@nsf.gov (703) 292-4608

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