Funding Agency:
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) is soliciting innovative proposals to develop agile, reliable sensing devices that leverage microbes for environmental monitoring. Specifically, DARPA seeks to establish the range of chemical and physical stimuli that microbial “devices” can detect, environmental conditions they can tolerate, options for biologicallyencoded information processing, types of output signals that can be generated, and theoretical stand-off or remote distances at which these signals could be detected. Tellus will focus on developing a Methodology that enables the reliable and reproducible design of agile, robust, and durable microbial sensors for environmental monitoring.

Tellus will explore the development of a platform Methodology for the rapid and modular design of microbe-based sensing systems to include tailoring of input stimuli and output signals, biologically-encoded signal processing, and response times. The microbial devices that are developed must be able to transduce detected stimuli into a variety of output signals (e.g., photons, colorimetric changes, chemicals, electric current, mechanical actuation) that are measurable by conventional “receiver” devices (e.g., optoelectronic, photonic, imaging, electrode). Classes of stimuli will include both chemical and physical, with emphasis on sensor functionality across many different environments and conditions. As remote environmental monitoring for existing and emerging threats, pollutants, or changing conditions is an area of DoD/national security interest, microbial sensing systems that are capable of detecting stimuli and/or relaying output signals at a distance and can operate unattended for long durations are desired. Tellus is a 2.5-year, single phase program focused on developing a Methodology that will enable rapid design, building, and testing of microbial sense-and-respond devices for environmental monitoring.


o Proposal Abstract Due Date and Time: May 18, 2023, 4:00 PM ET

o Full Proposal Due Date and Time: July 6, 2023, 4:00 PM ET




Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences

External Deadline

July 6, 2023