Stanford Research Development Office

NSF Physics Frontiers Centers

Note: This page will be updated as new information is available. Please check back frequently. (Most recent content update May 21, 2022)

Physics Frontiers Centers (PFC)

The Physics Frontiers Centers (PFC) program supports university-based centers and institutes where the collective efforts of a larger group of individuals can enable transformational advances in the most promising research areas. The program is designed to foster major breakthroughs at the intellectual frontiers of physics by providing needed resources such as combinations of talents, skills, disciplines, and/or specialized infrastructure, not usually available to individual investigators or small groups, in an environment in which the collective efforts of the larger group can be shown to be seminal to promoting significant progress in the science and the education of students.

Activities supported through the program are in all sub-fields of physics within the purview of the Division of Physics: atomic, molecular, optical, plasma, elementary particle, nuclear, particle astro-, gravitational, and biological physics. Interdisciplinary projects at the interface between these physics areas and other disciplines and physics sub-fields may also be considered, although the bulk of the effort must fall within one of those areas within the purview of the Division of Physics. The successful PFC activity will demonstrate:

  • the potential for a profound advance in physics;
  • creative, substantive activities aimed at enhancing education, diversity, and public outreach;
  • potential for broader impacts, e.g., impacts on other field(s) and benefits to society; and
  • a synergy or value-added rationale that justifies a center- or institute-like approach.

Funding level is up to $5 million per year for six years.


  • June 8, 2022: Internal proposals due to VPDoR Limited Submission Programs through the Stanford Funding Opportunities portal
  • Week of June 13: Notification of internal application status
  • August 1, 2022: Preliminary Proposals due (required for selected applicants)
  • January 27, 2024: Full Proposals due (by NSF invitation only)


  • Faculty with PI eligibility (members of the University's Academic Council or UML faculty) are permitted to serve as PIs. 
  • Any one individual may be the Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) for only one preliminary proposal. This same limitation applies to full proposals. 
  • Individuals may be listed as participating senior investigators on more than one proposal.
  • No more than two preliminary proposals may be submitted by any one institution. 
  • No more than two full proposals may be submitted by any one institution.

Limited Submissions Process

This is a Limited Submission funding opportunity. A university-wide selection process is required prior to proposal submission to NSF. No more than two preliminary proposals are permitted from Stanford as the lead institution.

Find more information on the selection process and submit internal applications via the PFC competition page, available from the Limited Submissions portal page.

For questions about the limited submissions process, please email


Program Information

Stanford support for proposals

Proposal support is available through the Stanford Research Development Office, Office of STEM Outreach, and School of Engineering.

  • The Stanford Research Development Office (RDO) supports faculty across Stanford on proposal development, including advising on proposal sections, writing, editing, project management, and bringing in internal and external expertise. Please contact RDO Director Kim Baeten ( for more information.
  • Kyle Cole (, Director of Education and STEM Outreach for the Office of Community Engagement, can provide support in connecting the Stanford community with youth, schoolteachers, nonprofits, and the broader community to help increase engagement, participation, equity, and inclusion in STEM fields. School of Engineering faculty may also contact Blythe Nobleman for developing broadening participation and educational outreach plans. See details below.
  • Blythe Nobleman is the Research Development Strategist & Editor in the School of Engineering. Working closely with engineering research administrators, Blythe works with SoE faculty to identify funding opportunities, develop concepts, encourage best practices in proposal writing, and to review/edit proposals. Blythe also assists with developing broadening participation and educational outreach plans. To learn more, contact: