NSF Physics Frontier Centers (PFC)

Below is a summary assembled by the Research & Innovation Office (RIO). Please see the full solicitation for complete information about the funding opportunity.

Program Summary 

The Physics Frontiers Centers (PFC) program supports university-based centers and institutes where the collective efforts of a larger group of individuals can enable transformational advances in the most promising research areas. The program is designed to foster major breakthroughs at the intellectual frontiers of physics by providing needed resources such as combinations of talents, skills, disciplines, and/or specialized infrastructure, not usually available to individual investigators or small groups, in an environment in which the collective efforts of the larger group can be shown to be seminal to promoting significant progress in the science and the education of students. Activities supported through the program are in all sub-fields of physics within the purview of the Division of Physics: atomic, molecular, optical, plasma, elementary particle, nuclear, particle astro-, gravitational, and biological physics. Interdisciplinary projects at the interface between these physics areas and other disciplines and physics sub-fields may also be considered, although the bulk of the effort must fall within one of those areas within the purview of the Division of Physics. The successful PFC activity will demonstrate: (1) the potential for a profound advance in physics; (2) creative, substantive activities aimed at enhancing education, diversity, and public outreach; (3) potential for broader impacts, e.g., impacts on other field(s) and benefits to society; (4) a synergy or value-added rationale that justifies a center- or institute-like approach.


CU Internal Deadline: 11:59pm MT June 13, 2022

Sponsor Preliminary Proposal Deadline: 5:00pm MT August 1, 2022

Sponsor Full Proposal Deadline (invitation only): 5:00pm MT January 27, 2023

Internal Application Requirements (all in PDF format)

  • Project Description (3 pages maximum): Please address intellectual merit and broader impacts of the proposed effort. Include the following elements: a list of PI, co-PIs, and senior investigators; overview of project as a whole; rationale for establishing PFC; outline of existing planned capabilities of participating institutions in physics research and education; and a description of each Major Activity (an MA is usually a primary research thrust).
  • PI Biosketch  
  • Budget Overview (1 page maximum): A basic budget outlining project costs is sufficient; detailed OCG budgets are not required.

To access the online application, visit: https://cuboulderovcr.secure-platform.com/a/solicitations/6749/home


Any one individual may be the Principal Investigator (PI) or co-Principal Investigator (co-PI) for only one preliminary proposal. The same limitation applies to full proposals. Individuals may be listed as participating senior investigators on more than one proposal.

Limited Submission Guidelines

No more than two preliminary proposals may be submitted by any one institution. The same limitation applies to full proposals.

Award Information

Award Amount: $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 annually

Award Duration: 6 years

Anticipated Awards: 3-5