Department of Energy Announces $16 Million for Low-Temperature Plasma Research Centers and Facilities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan to provide $16 million to establish new centers and collaborative research facilities for research in low-temperature plasma science and engineering.

Applications will be open to universities, national laboratories, industry, and nonprofits. Funding is to be awarded competitively, on the basis of peer review, and is expected to be in the form of five-year cooperative agreements ranging from $300,000 to $1.7 million per year, beginning in the current fiscal year.

Low-temperature plasmas have a wide range of applications in both industry and medicine. In microelectronics, for example, they are used for etching, cleaning, and surface finishing, among many other uses. Other industrial applications include synthesis of nanomaterials and artificial diamonds. In medicine, they are used to sterilize, produce antibacterial agents, perform surgery, stop bleeding, heal tissue, and even to treat cancer.

"Advances in the understanding and control of low-temperature plasmas, and their application to industry and medicine, have been one of the important contributions of discovery plasma science over the decades," said James Van Dam, DOE Acting Associate Director of Science for Fusion Energy Sciences. "The establishment of new centers and collaborative research facilities will help accelerate discovery and innovation in this critical field."

Centers and collaborative research facilities to be established under this initiative will  be designed to address one or more topical areas at the frontier of low temperature plasma science and engineering. These include, among other topics, the interaction of plasma with biomaterials, control of plasma to enable microelectronics processing, plasma catalysis, plasma-aided combustion, and other emerging areas such as plasma-aided aeronautics and plasma process control through machine learning.

Total planned funding is $16 million over five years, with outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations.

A DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement and a companion laboratory call, issued by DOE's Office of Science, are to be found here.