DOE: Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC)

The mission of the Basic Energy Sciences (BES) program is to support fundamental research to understand, predict, and ultimately control matter and energy at the electronic, atomic, and molecular levels in order to provide the foundations for new energy technologies and to support DOE's mission emphases in energy, the environment, and national security. BES has long invested in innovative basic research to advance the DOE mission through BES's core research areas.

The EFRC program, initiated in 2009, brings together the skills, talents, and expertise of teams of scientists to perform energy-relevant, basic research with a scope and complexity beyond what is possible in standard single-investigator or small-group awards. These multi-investigator, multi-disciplinary centers enable, encourage, and accelerate transformative scientific advances for the most challenging topics in materials sciences, chemical sciences, geosciences, and biosciences. EFRCs conduct fundamental research focused on one or more "grand challenges," "transformative opportunities," and "basic research needs" identified in major strategic planning efforts by BES and the scientific community.

Establishing Priority Research Directions for Basic Energy Science
In 2002, the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (BESAC) invited leaders of the scientific community to a weeklong workshop to assess the scope of fundamental scientific research that must be considered to address the DOE mission. This resulted in the 2003 report, Basic Research Needs to Assure a Secure Energy Future. Over the last decade and a half, that report inspired a series of "Basic Research Needs" workshops involving thousands of participants from universities, industry, and national laboratories, which established Priority Research Directions (PRDs) for basic energy science. Together, the reports from these workshops highlight the remarkable scientific evolution that has taken place during the past few decades. The resulting scientific challenges describe a new era of science in which researchers can design, manipulate, and ultimately control materials functionalities and chemical transformations.

Proposals must identify one or more of the Priority Research Directions listed in the funding announcement.

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.

Proposals must also address priority research directions identified in one or more of the Basic Research Needs workshop reports AND one or more of the "grand challenges" identified by the DOE and described in the funding announcement.

Application evaluation: Internal applications will be judged on their responsiveness to the objectives of the funding announcement, the likelihood of scientific impact, and the impact of the proposed center for Case Western Reserve University. Applicants are strongly urged to have a conversation with their school or college's research dean about the application before the internal deadline. The purpose of this conversation is two-fold: first, to ensure that your research dean will be able to understand and support the creation of the EFRC should the application be successful, and second to ensure that they can explain the merits and impacts of the application to the review committee in advocating for your application to be selected to represent the university.

Number of Applications
Three, including new or renewal applications as lead institution
Amount of Funding

Proposals must be between $2,000,000 and $4,000,000 per year for up to four years


Applicants are encouraged to consult with their Associate Deans for Research prior to internal submission to assure they meet eligibility criteria and their projects meet stated program objectives.

Limitation on Number of Applications Submitted by an EFRC Director

The EFRC Director is the lead Principal Investigator and must be employed or have an agreement in place to be hired by the lead organization. An individual may not be named as the EFRC Director on more than one application. Directors of existing EFRC awards that do not have project end dates in 2018 cannot be named as the EFRC Director on any application in response to this FOA. If the proposed EFRC Director will not be employed by the lead organization, the application will be deemed non-responsive and will be rejected without further review. Further, if more than one application is received from an applicant identifying the same individual as the EFRC Director, DOE will consider only the application (if any) that matches a qualified pre-application (as described in Section IV.B.2). The remaining applications will be deemed non-responsive and rejected without further review. However, there is no restriction on the number of applications in which an individual may participate as a Principal Investigator or senior/key personnel.

Submission Process

Step 1

Send the following information in a single PDF document to Stephanie Endy ( before 5pm on Friday, December 14, 2017:

  • A cover page including the following
    • Pre-application Title (this is the EFRC Name)
    • Lead Principal Investigator Name, Job Title (this is the EFRC Director)
    • Lead Organization
    • Lead Principal Investigator Phone Number and Email Address
    • Basic Research Needs Reports (list one or more of the following):
      • Basic Research Needs for Future Nuclear Energy
      • Basic Research Needs for Catalysis Science
      • Basic Research Needs for Next Generation Electrical Energy Storage
      • Basic Research Needs for Energy and Water
      • Basic Research Needs for Transformative Experimental Tools
      • Basic Research Needs for Synthesis Science
      • Basic Research Needs for Quantum Materials
      • Controlling Subsurface Fractures and Fluid Flow: A Basic Research Agenda
      • Basic Research Needs for Carbon Capture: Beyond 2020
      • Basic Research Needs for Solid-State Lighting
      • Basic Research Needs for Solar Energy Utilization
      • Basic Research Needs for the Hydrogen Economy
    • Grand Challenge(s) addressed by EFRC (list one or more of the following):
      • 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?
    • Transformative Opportunity(s) addressed by EFRC (list one or more of the following):
      • 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
  • A description of the mission and goals of the proposed EFRC not longer than two pages, including the following elements:
    • A clear and concise statement of the scientific mission of the proposed EFRC and a high level set of integrated four-year research goals designed to support that mission;
    • An explanation of the importance of the proposed research and its potential scientific impact; and
    • A discussion of how the proposed research is responsive to the objectives of this FOA.
Step 2

Final nominees will be notified of their selection by Friday, December 22, 2017.

Step 3

Pre-applications must be received by the Office of Research Administration by Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 5:00pm EST.

Step 4

Mandatory pre-applications must be received by the sponsor by Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 5:00pm EST.


Abstract or LOI to ORA Chosen Proposal Announced ORA Final Proposal Due Date Sponsor Submission Deadline Days Until Due
12/14/2017 12/22/2017 01/24/2018 01/31/2018 CLOSED