Next-Generation Non-Surgical Neurotechnology (N3)

Funding Agency:
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

DARPA is soliciting innovative proposals to revolutionize the nonsurgical bidirectional neural interface. State-of-the-art high-resolution (single neuron or neural ensemble) neural interfaces are invasive, requiring surgical implantation of metal or silicon-based electrodes into brain tissue or on the surface of the brain. Current high-resolution neural interfaces are not a feasible solution for the able-bodied warfighter, nor are they ideal for therapy and restoration of function. However, given recent advances in biomedical engineering, neuroscience, and nanotechnology, there is now an opportunity to develop a neural interface that is either completely external to the body or that includes a nonsurgically delivered nanotransducer that will serve as a signal transducing intermediary between neurons and the external recording and stimulating device. The current major technological challenge is to interact with neural tissue through the skull while maintaining high spatial and temporal resolution; this is important for both recording and stimulating neurons. It is also imperative that candidate technologies are safe and biocompatible.

Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, and systems. Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice. Incremental advances in electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may not be considered responsive to this BAA and may not be evaluated.

A neural interface that enables fast, effective, and intuitive hands-free interaction with military systems by able-bodied warfighters is the ultimate program goal. The promise of efficient warfighter multitasking and intuitive interaction with autonomous and semi-autonomous systems point to the need to develop technologies targeted at enriching human-machine interaction. In addition, it is imperative that warfighters be able to interact regularly and intuitively with artificially intelligent (AI), semi-autonomous and autonomous systems in a manner currently not possible with conventional interfaces. The N3 program will develop the interface technology required for current and future systems.

The Next-Generation Non-Surgical Neurotechnology (N3 ) program aims to develop a highresolution neural interface that does not require surgery. While previous DARPA programs have developed neural interfaces intended to restore function to the wounded warrior, the N3 program will broaden the applicability of neural interfaces to the able-bodied warfighter.

Deadline: Jun. 5, 2018

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Technical Area 1. Noninvasive neural interface

Technical Area 2. Minutely invasive neural interface

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational

External Deadline

June 5, 2018