Semiconductor Synthetic Biology for Information Processing and Storage Technologies (SemiSynBio) (NSF 17-557)


National Science Foundation


Submission Window Date(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter’s local time): October 02, 2017 – October 30, 2017


The goal of the SemiSynBio research program is to foster exploratory, multi-disciplinary, longer-term basic research leading to novel high-payoff solutions for the information technology industry based on recent progress in synthetic biology and the know-how of semiconductor technology. It is also anticipated that research in synthetic biology will benefit by leveraging semiconductor capabilities in design and fabrication of hybrid and complex material systems for extensive applications in biological and information processing technologies. In addition, the educational goal is to train new cadre of students and researchers.

This program aims to seed and foster collaboration among the faculties in the biological, engineering, physics, chemistry, materials science, computer science, information science and design automation disciplines to develop new cross-disciplinary approaches, including instruction materials, that integrate concepts, tools and methodology from biology, physics, semiconductor engineering and computer engineering. The role of this program is to stimulate non-traditional thinking about the issues facing the semiconductor industry by:

  1. Advancing basic research by exploring new programmable models of computation, communication, and memory based on synthetic biology;
  2. Enriching the knowledge base and addressing foundational questions at the interface of biology and semiconductors;
  3. Promoting the frontier of research in the design of new bio-nano hybrid devices based on sustainable materials, including carbon-based systems that test the physical size limit in transient electronics;
  4. Designing and fabricating hybrid semiconductor-biological microelectronic systems based on living cells for next-generation storage and information processing functionalities; and
  5. Integrating scaling-up and manufacturing technologies involving electronic and synthetic biology characterization instruments with computer-aided design (CAD)-like software tools.


The Principal Investigator (PI) must be at the faculty level as determined by the submitting organization. A minimum of one PI and two co-PIs must participate. 

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 1

An investigator may participate as PI, co-PI or senior personnel in no more than one proposal submitted in response to this solicitation. It is the responsibility of the submitting institution to ensure that the PI and all the co-PIs are participating in only one proposal.

In the event that an individual exceeds this limit, proposals will be accepted based on earliest date and time of the proposal submission, i.e., the first proposal received will be accepted and the remainder will be returned without review. No exceptions will be made.

Proposals submitted in response to this solicitation cannot be duplicates of proposals to any other Federal agency for simultaneous consideration. The only exceptions to this rule are: (1) when the program officers at the relevant Federal agencies have previously agreed to joint review and possible joint funding of the proposal; or (2) proposals for PIs who are beginning investigators (individuals who have not been a PI or co-PI on a Federally-funded award with the exception of doctoral dissertation, postdoctoral fellowship or research planning grants). For proposers who qualify under this latter exception, the box for “Beginning Investigator” must be checked on the Cover Sheet.

A minimum of one PI and two co-PIs must participate in a proposal with expertise in the biological sciences, engineering, and computer and information sciences.

Available Funding:

Estimated Number of Awards: 10

Individual projects will be funded at up to $500,000 per year for three years depending on the availability of funds.

Link to Full RFP: