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Information for Researchers No. 34 | 20 July 2011
Priority Programme “New Frontiers in Sensitivity for EPR Spectroscopy: From Biological Cells to Nano Materials” (SPP 1601)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has announced the establishment of a new Priority Programme entitled “New Frontiers in Sensitivity for EPR Spectroscopy: From Biological Cells to Nano Materials” (SPP 1601). The programme is designed to run for six years; the present call invites proposals for the first three-year funding period.

Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) is a spectroscopic technique that allows detection of paramagnetic centres and magnetic nuclei coupled to them on a time scale as short as nanoseconds and with spatial resolution from the atomic up to the nanometer scale. Recent progress in this technique has been mainly driven by specific needs in the research areas of biological and material science. The Priority Programme aims at bringing these research areas together in a coordinated effort to increase the sensitivity of EPR as an essential spectroscopic technique for biology, chemistry, materials science and physics.

As a major goal, applications shall be addressed by EPR such as the investigation of megadalton molecular machines, in cell protein-protein interactions or enzymatic mechanisms, catalytic processes on single-crystalline surfaces or the light-induced degradation of thin-film solar cells. The intrinsic diversity of the studied systems implies that the envisaged sensitivity enhancement does not only rely on advances on the side of EPR hardware but involves alternative polarisation and detection schemes and the adaptation of the method to “real world” samples.

The programme invites applications for collaborative projects that focus on four major research areas. The first two areas comprehend methods to increase the sensitivity of EPR experiments: 1) methods for improved excitation and manipulation of electron spin magnetisation, and 2) methods for improved EPR detection. The third and fourth areas explore the applicability of these methods in fields of biological and material sciences, which are not amenable to EPR spectroscopy at the current state-of-the-art.

The synergy between the methodological work, on the one side, and application-oriented research on the other side, occurs in two time phases. In the first phase (first three years, short term goal), the groups with focus on applications shall adapt and expand presently available methods for increased sensitivity (such as the use of micro-resonators, THz spectroscopy, electrical or optical excitation or detection) to their specific purposes. Groups with expertise in EPR methodologies will focus on the design of new experiments. In the second phase of the programme (long term goal) the outcome from the methodical work will be tested in a collaborative effort among the consortium and optimised for specific applications.

Applications can be made from single parties but joint collaborative proposals are encouraged. In case of joint proposals partners should be linked from separate fields, e.g., chemistry, material science, biophysics and physics. Separate budgets must be provided for each applicant in joint proposals. The programme will not cover upgrades in standard instrumentation or investments in large scale facilities.

Please note that proposers need to be eligible for research proposals to the DFG.
Accepted proposals are expected to contribute to joint activities of this SPP. These might be jointly organised summer schools as well as regular meetings where research results and experiences are exchanged.

Submission of proposals

Research proposals for the initial three-year funding period are now invited. All proposals must be written in English and be prepared according to the guidelines for individual research grants (1.02/1.02e, available from the DFG website). Please include one paper copy and one CD-ROM copy (containing proposal and all attachments as pdf). They should be marked “SPP 1601” and addressed to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Kennedyallee 40, 53175 Bonn. Deadline for proposal submission is 30 November 2011. Please note that proposals still have to be submitted by postal mail.

The proposals will be evaluated by a review panel which is planned to meet in February 2012. The envisaged start of funding is May 2012.

Further information

DFG’s forms and guidelines are available under:

Scientific questions about this Priority Programme should be directed to its coordinator:

  • Professor Dr. Marina Bennati,
    Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (Karl-Friedrich-Bonhoeffer-Institut),
    Am Fassberg 11,
    37077 Göttingen,


Administrative questions, notably about the formal eligibility for participation and the submission of the proposal, should be directed to: