Internal Deadline: October 14, 2022, 5pm PT
LOI: December 16, 2022
External Deadline: April 3, 2023
Award Type: Standard or Continuing Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: 10 – 12
Anticipated Award Amount: $25,000,00. Anticipated funding amount is pending availability of funds. Each project team may receive support of up to a total of $2,500,000 over the project duration of 4 years. It is not expected that all awards will receive the maximum amount; the size of awards will depend upon the type of research program proposed. The budget must be commensurate with the scope of the project and thoroughly justified in the proposal.
Who May Serve as PI: The Principal Investigator (PI) must be a faculty member employed by the submitting organization. A minimum of one (1) PI and two (2) co-PIs must participate.
Link to Award: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2022/nsf22630/nsf22630.htm
Process for Limited Submissions
PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Office of Research Application Portal: https://orif.usc.edu/oor-portal/.
Materials to submit include:
- (1) Single Page Proposal Summary (0.5” margins; single-spaced; font type: Arial, Helvetica, or Georgia typeface; font size: 11 pt). Page limit includes references and illustrations. Pages that exceed the 1-page limit will be excluded from review.
- (2) CV – (5 pages maximum)
Note: The portal requires information about the PIs and Co-PIs in addition to department and contact information, including the 10-digit USC ID#, Gender, and Ethnicity. Please have this material prepared before beginning this application.
Competitive proposals are expected to present interdisciplinary and collaborative projects that identify a need and describe a sound scientific and engineering approach for developing a novel sensing system with enhanced performance compared to classical technologies. Successful proposals should make a compelling case for how the proposed research project has potential to deliver breakthroughs in quantum sensing technologies that could impact society.
Proposed projects should pursue either or both of the following tracks:
- Explore new ideas using for enhanced sensing functionalities using quantum information science and engineering principles. Proposals should describe how the project will result in experimental tests or a proof of principle for new concepts, platforms, or approaches for enhanced sensing.
- Translate quantum information science and engineering discoveries into scalable quantum sensor systems or networks. Proposals should describe how the project will demonstrate advantages for targeted applications as a result of applying fundamentally quantum phenomena.
Competitive proposals will come from interdisciplinary research teams led by at least three (3) investigators who collectively contribute synergistic expertise from domains such as engineering, computer science, mathematical and physical sciences, biology, or geoscience. Competitive proposals should also address the QuSeC-TAQS programmatic considerations described below, such as the potential for transformative advances on a targeted quantum sensor technology, the potential for interdisciplinarity and convergence in the research process, plans for experimental demonstration, and the potential for broader impacts such as educational and training opportunities, partnerships, or international collaboration, student mobility and exchanges.
Potential Quantum Sensing research areas:
Innovative proposals on a diverse range of quantum sensors topics are sought. A partial list of quantum sensor topics is provided here. This list is not intended to be comprehensive, nor limiting. Rather, these technical areas are merely presented to illustrate possible considerations. The scientific and engineering communities are strongly encouraged to explore possibilities beyond these examples.
Sensors, in general, consist of devices and systems that interact with the environment and provide a measurable response. Quantum sensors take advantage of quantum mechanical phenomena such as quantum states, quantum spins, matter-wave duality, coherence, superposition, and/or entanglement and quantum correlations to extend sensing capabilities. Importantly, quantum sensors can provide transduction mechanisms to reach beyond the traditional limits of classical sensors in terms of precision, accuracy, bandwidth, speed, or other factors such as size, weight, and power. Sensors using multi-particle entanglement or squeezing have demonstrated progress towards metrology at the Heisenberg limit. Furthermore, networks of quantum sensors have been proposed to enhance the sensitivity of clocks, telescopes, magnetometers, or other instruments.
Quantum sensing has the potential to revolutionize investigation of complex biological systems, where traditional modes of exploration are often limited by studies of microscopic phenomena with macroscopic tools. Creation of new bio-compatible quantum probes and sensing protocols can provide new insights about complex biological systems that cannot be accessed through classical measurements. For example, nanoscale sensors and coherent spectroscopy can reveal correlations and couplings at length and time scales that were previously inaccessible, or gradients in temperature and metabolites that were previously impossible to study. Such advances can potentially provide new knowledge about biological functions and dynamics within cells.
Atomic clocks have made substantial impacts, for example by enabling GPS navigation, high-speed communication networks, and precision measurements. New applications for atomic clocks may come from chip-scale devices, portable systems, and advancements in the state-of-the-art using quantum logic spectroscopy or other forms of quantum control. Improvements in metrology, time-transfer, navigation, very long baseline interferometry, quantum networking, and even geodesy via measurements of gravitational time dilation are just a few of the application areas that have been suggested for next generation atomic clocks. Proposals for collaborative work to realize new applications, or work to improve key components, subsystems, or device functionality is encouraged.
Matter-wave optics such as atom interferometry, neutron interferometry, and electron holography systems provide unique sensitivity to several atomic, molecular, and solid-state properties. Measurements of gravity, inertial displacements (acceleration and rotation) and the index of refraction for de Broglie waves due to various potentials have been mainstays in this field. Collaborative projects to pioneer new applications in disciplines ranging from physics and materials science to geoscience and navigation are encouraged. Well-motivated work on critical subsystems, including chip-scale devices, integrated photonics, and laser systems are also encouraged, as a means to enable targeted applications.
Solid-state and chip-scale methods to detect standards for quantities such as voltage, current, irradiance and temperature benefit from quantum sensors. Since the redefinition of the kilogram in terms of Planck’s constant, all the SI base units can now be realized in terms of quantum phenomena, potentially leveraging new quantum sensor modalities.
Magnetometers have diverse applications ranging from remote sensing and navigation to biological and medical research. Quantum sensors may improve magnetoencephalography studies of cognition, cardiology studies in vivo, laboratory measurements of single neurons, and even intracellular studies of biological dynamics. Optical magnetometers with atoms, molecules, or atom-like defects in solids such as nitrogen vacancy centers in diamonds may be further enhanced using quantum effects to increase sensitivity, reliability, and compatibility with various environments. Superconducting systems and magnetometers based on electron and proton spins can be improved too. Related studies of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are also encouraged to extend the sensitivity and applicability of MRI systems.
Identification of molecules in samples, for chemical and biological content analysis, e.g. through coherent Raman spectroscopy of rotational and vibrational modes, can be used for understanding biological systems, or for disease diagnosis. Spectroscopy using entangled photons may provide benefits such as enhanced precision, discrimination, or contrast. Benefits may also include lower doses of exposure, or more remote, contactless measurements, and lead to novel platforms for biotechnology and medicine.
Uses of entanglement and many-body quantum states to enable new capabilities such as non-invasive imaging or measurements with precision beyond the standard quantum limit are encouraged. High-efficiency quantum transducers to convert information contained in microwave, mechanical, or magnetic domains into modulations on photonic quantum states are needed. Projects exploring chip-level integration of quantum sensors or engineering of key components and subsystems for quantum sensors are also desirable. Additional examples of possible topics include novel molecular and materials architectures for quantum sensing; improved imaging, entangled-photon microscopy, spectroscopy, or photonic systems using quantum optics; enhancing measurements of electric fields and GHz or THz radiation possibly using Rydberg atomic states and coherent spectroscopy.
QuSeC-TAQS Programmatic Considerations:
The following features are deemed important under this research solicitation:
- Quantum Sensing: It is expected that proposed research projects will focus on quantum sensing, leveraging both fundamental understanding of quantum phenomena and novel application concepts. Clear rationale as to the novelty and the potential for enhanced capabilities as compared to classical sensors and systems should be addressed.
- Interdisciplinarity and Convergence: Progress in this field may benefit from research that draws upon expertise in multiple disciplines including (but not limited to) physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, geoscience, computer science, and engineering. Proposals should describe how the project will facilitate scientists and engineers to work together in research teams involving theory, modeling, design, characterization, device fabrication, and testing.
- Experimental Demonstration: Proposals should describe how the project will realize a proof-of-concept for novel quantum functionalities, characterize quantum device properties, or system performance in relevant conditions for potential applications.
The QuSeC-TAQS program also encourages diverse activities with the potential to increase the impact of projects:
- Education and Training: Proposals that in addition to research create education, training, and workforce development opportunities in areas of quantum information science and engineering related to quantum sensing are encouraged.
- Partnerships: The creation or development of partnerships with industry, National Laboratories, or other academic institutions can be valuable for developing new concepts and platforms, for scaling up, and subsequently for commercialization of technologies based on quantum sensor concepts. Such partnerships are therefore encouraged where appropriate.
- International Collaboration and Student Mobility and Exchange: Collaboration with international scientific teams who are leaders in the field is welcome. Travel support for principal investigators, research personnel and students may be considered. Opportunities for developing student exchange are encouraged in order to develop a globally engaged workforce for QIS technologies.
Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for more updates and other announcements.