Quantum-Enabled Bioimaging and Sensing Approaches for Bioenergy

Funding Agency:
Department of Energy

The DOE SC program in Biological and Environmental Research (BER), through its Bioimaging Research effort, announces its interest in receiving applications to advance fundamental research or use-inspired technologies of new bioimaging or sensing approaches that exploit quantum phenomena. Applications must describe how they would advance knowledge and predictive understanding of plant and microbial systems relevant to bioenergy and environmental research in fields of study supported by BER. Projects that incorporate quantum science concepts to enhance spatial and temporal resolution, measurement speed, long-term sample stability, or sensitivity of bioimaging technologies are desirable. Proposed research should demonstrate a comparative advantage over conventional methods.

BER seeks to advance our understanding of bioimaging by using new quantum science-enabled areas that could resolve limitations of classical optics including resolution and detection limits, signal-to-noise ratio, limitations on temporal dynamics, long term signal stability, sample photodamage and limited penetration, or selective biomolecule sensing. Fundamental research concepts and use-inspired, early prototype research are needed to realize quantum-enabled bioimaging and sensing. Promising approaches could employ photon entanglement, tunneling, quantum correlation, or other quantum phenomena to production and detection of photons or electrons for bioimaging. Applications must enable in situ imaging of live or preserved plant and microbial systems relevant to bioenergy research supported by BER.

Current bioimaging techniques measure structure and dynamics to complement biomolecule identification and reactions in plant-microbe biosystems. This information is often crucial for validating hypotheses of cellular metabolism or synthetically engineered pathways. Biological macromolecules that catalyze metabolic and transport reactions exist in spatially defined or membrane-bound regions in the cell often deep within the living organism. Spatial and temporal information characterize the dynamic, sequential context for biochemical steps and substrates, metabolites, enzymes, and regulatory molecules within a biological process or metabolic pathway of interest.

A major challenge is to understand how metabolic pathways are organized within topological constraints at the subcellular scale deep within living systems. Techniques to understand the dynamic organismal function, and location of macromolecules involved in these pathways is key towards developing a better understanding of the spatiotemporal dependence of metabolic processes in biological systems at cellular and subcellular levels.


  • Required Pre-application: Jan. 14, 2022
  • Application: April 4, 2022

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

All types of domestic applicants are eligible to apply, except nonprofit organizations described in section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 that engaged in lobbying activities after December 31, 1995.

Applicant institutions are limited to no more than one letters of intent, pre-applications, or applications for each PI at the applicant institution. DOE will consider the latest received submissions to be the institution’s intended submissions.

Amount Description

Ceiling $750,000 per year

Floor $250,000 per year

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences

External Deadline

January 14, 2022