This opportunity is closed.

Submitting PI:

  • Lee Makowski
  • Internal: 12/18/2017
  • LOI: 01/31/2018
  • Proposal: 04/11/2018


  • Amount: up to $4M per year
  • Duration: 4 years


The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) announces a re-competition of the Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC) and encourages both new and renewal applications. Applications will be required to address priority research directions identified by the series of “Basic Research Needs” reports, the scientific grand challenges identified in the report Directing Matter and Energy: Five Challenges for Science and the Imagination, and the opportunities described in the report Challenges at the Frontiers of Matter and Energy: Transformative Opportunities for Discovery Science. Applications submitted in response to this FOA must propose scientific research that addresses PRDs identified in one or more of these reports.

Note: DOE anticipates awards in a number of different scientific research areas. When making selections, DOE will emphasize emerging science priorities that have been highlighted in recent workshops, including:

  • quantum materials,
  • catalysis science,
  • synthesis science,
  • instrumentation science,
  • next-generation energy storage,
  • future nuclear energy, and
  • energy-water issues.

In order to address these priorities, DOE plans to deemphasize the following topical areas:

  • phenomena related to more mature areas of solar photovoltaics, thermoelectrics, and solid-state lighting;
  • carbon dioxide sequestration; and
  • biologically-mediated breakdown and conversion of lignocellulosic biomass.

Scientific research related to environmental management will not be supported under this FOA, as this was the subject of a targeted EFRC FOA in FY2016.

Science “Grand Challenges” and “Transformative Opportunities”
The BES mission to direct and control matter at the electronic, atomic, and molecular levels, requires new insights into the complexity that governs material properties and processes at the quantum level. A 2007 workshop examined the primary roadblocks to progress and resulted in the following BESAC report, which defined five “grand challenges” for science:

Directing Matter and Energy: Five Challenges for Science and the Imagination.
In this report, a new era for energy science was posed in five “grand challenges”:

  • How do we control material processes at the level of electrons?
  • How do we design and perfect atom- and energy-efficient synthesis of revolutionary new forms of matter with tailored properties?
  • How do remarkable properties of matter emerge from complex correlations of the atomic or electronic constituents and how can we control these properties?
  • How can we master energy and information on the nanoscale to create new technologies with capabilities rivaling those of living things?
  • How do we characterize and control matter away – especially very far away – from equilibrium?

In 2015, in response to a charge to revisit this so-called “grand challenge” report, BESAC convened a committee of experts and issued the following report:
Challenges at the Frontiers of Matter and Energy: Transformative Opportunities for Discovery Science.
This report identified five “transformative opportunities” for discovery science:

  • Mastering Hierarchical Architectures and Beyond-Equilibrium Matter
  • Beyond Ideal Materials and Systems: Understanding the Critical Roles of Heterogeneity, Interfaces, and Disorder
  • Harnessing Coherence in Light and Matter
  • Revolutionary Advances in Models, Mathematics, Algorithms, Data, and Computing
  • Exploiting Transformative Advances in Imaging Capabilities across Multiple Scales

Applications submitted in response to this FOA must propose research that addresses one or more of the “grand challenges” and that embodies one or more of the “transformative opportunities.”

The primary purpose of the EFRCs is to support integrated, multi-disciplinary teams of researchers performing fundamental science; therefore dissemination of results through peer-reviewed publications is a necessary measure of success. In addition, DOE anticipates that some EFRC basic research will have potential technological value. When appropriate, EFRCs are encouraged to file for patent protection. Recipients are also encouraged to explore opportunities to accelerate the transition of promising scientific results to technology development and commercial applications outside of the EFRC; EFRC awards must not support applied research and technology development.

Eligibility & Submission Requirements

Up to three pre-proposals may be submitted by an eligible organization. If interested in submitting, please contact Karen Drew (-4824) as soon as possible and submit a 3-page pre-proposal following the NU Procedure for Programs with Limited Submissions.

Please refer to the Limited Submissions guidelines above, as the requirements have changed.

Contact Information

Questions regarding the content of this FOA must be submitted through the FedConnect portal. You must register with FedConnect and respond as an interested party to submit questions, and to view responses to questions. It is recommended that you register as soon after release of the FOA as possible to have the benefit of all responses. More information is available at

Due to the time required to provide complete and accurate answers to questions, all questions must be submitted through FedConnect no later than 12:00 Noon Eastern Time on March 30, 2018. DOE will not respond to questions submitted after the designated time.

DOE will try to respond to questions within 3 business days, unless a similar question and answer have already been posted.

Contact: Michael D. Hill,