Information for Researchers, No. 37 | May 2, 2023

NSF-DFG Lead Agency Activity in Measurements of Interfacial Systems at Scale with In-situ and Operando aNalysis (NSF-DFG MISSION)

Recognising the importance of international collaboration in promoting scientific discoveries, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on research cooperation. The MoU provides an overarching framework for enhancing opportunities for collaborative activities between U.S. and German research communities and sets out the principles by which jointly-supported activities might be developed. To facilitate the support of collaborative work between U.S. researchers and their German counterparts under this MoU, the Division of Chemistry (CHE) and the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems (CBET) at the NSF and the Divisions of Physics and Chemistry (PC) and Engineering Sciences (ING 1) at the DFG are pleased to announce a Lead Agency Activity in Measurements of Interfacial Systems at Scale with In-situ and Operando aNalysis.

Interfacial processes are inherently complex given the rich mix of reaction, transport phenomena and inter-phase gradients that often characterise such systems. There is a critical need for a new generation of operando and in-situ characterisation systems and tools (e.g. imaging, spectroscopy, scattering and corresponding theoretical methods) to develop a molecular understanding. This call for proposals encourages novel characterisation of processes occurring at interfaces under system-realistic conditions that are relevant to solving problems of our time by developing, for example, climate solutions and sustainable chemical processes. Topics include:

  • understanding dynamic reaction and physical/chemical processes at atomic and molecular scales for heterogeneous catalysis, electrode interfacial processes, nanoparticle-fluid or substrate interactions, atomic and molecular separations, biological surface-environment interactions, wetting;
  • discovering new reaction pathways for interfacial chemical synthesis and functionalisation;
  • understanding atomic and molecular mechanisms of sorption and transport processes in membranes and on nanomaterials;
  • understanding surface-templated synthesis or assembly of discrete structures, nucleation in crystallization processes; and
  • developing new methodologies for interfacial chemical characterisation, particle production and aerosol behaviour in processes.

Proposals for this lead agency activity will need to have a research focus relevant to the topic areas identified above. Proposals of German applicants are accepted in the subject areas 321–327 and 403, 404 of the DFG’s subject classification (see below under Further Information). US researchers should review the CHE and CBET programme descriptions for research supported through these NSF divisions.

Proposals will be reviewed by either NSF or DFG as the lead agency, depending on where the largest proportion of research lies. Proposals must provide a clear rationale for the need for a US-German collaboration, including the unique expertise and synergy that the collaborating groups will bring to the project.

For applicants to be invited to submit a formal proposal, an Expression of Interest (EOI) is required and should be submitted to the prospective lead agency no later than 28 June 2023, 5 pm local time.

Upon confirmation from both funding organisations that the collaborative research proposal is appropriate for the NSF-DFG MISSION call for proposals, the lead agency will contact the researchers to inform them that they may submit a full research proposal.

All full research proposals must be submitted by 31 October 2023, 5 pm local time (first-time users of the DFG’s online submission system elan need to pre-register by 17 October 2023).

For more detailed information on this call for proposals including specific instructions for applicants in Germany, please refer to the full call text (see below under Further Information).

The DFG strongly welcomes proposals from researchers of all genders and sexual identities, from different ethnic, cultural, religious, ideological or social backgrounds, from different career stages, types of universities and research institutions, and with disabilities or chronic illness. With regard to the subject-specific focus of this call, the DFG encourages female researchers in particular to submit proposals.

Notification of results

Applicants will be informed in writing of the results of the review and, where applicable, of the subsequent administrative steps according to the respective national regulations. The selection of the projects will be completed by April 2024.

Please note that according to a resolution of the DFG General Assembly, as of 1 August 2019, DFG funding may only be awarded to institutions that have implemented the guidelines laid down in the Code of Conduct for Safeguarding Good Research Practice in their own regulations in a legally binding manner.

This means that also for international proposals, funding from the DFG can only be received if the guidelines for safeguarding good research practice (see link below) have been implemented by the German applicant´s institution. If you have any questions on this subject, please contact the Research Integrity team at the DFG Head Office (see contact below). Further information regarding the implementation can be found on the Research Integrity website (see link below).

Further Information

Full call text including specific instructions for applicants from Germany:

Information on submitting proposals to the NSF:

DFG’s subject classification:

Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice – Code of Conduct:

Information on the implementation of the Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice (Code of Conduct):

DFG´s Research Integrity team (Good Research Practice):

DFG’s data protection notice on research funding:
Please note the DFG’s data protection notice on research funding:

If necessary, please also forward this information to those individuals whose data will be processed by the DFG due to their involvement in your project.

Contact persons at the DFG:


ING 1:

Contact persons at the NSF: