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NIST Awards Funding to Small Businesses to Advance Technologies for COVID Response, Manufacturing, Medical Diagnostics and More

Collage of photos shows factory worker, medical equipment, person using microscope.
Credit: Shutterstock

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded more than $7 million in funding to 23 U.S. small businesses in 14 states through two separate efforts under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Nearly $3.2 million in funding will go to help four businesses advance technologies in response to the coronavirus, and nearly $4 million will go to 19 businesses to advance technologies in manufacturing, privacy, medical diagnostics and more.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 enabled the four awards for “research, development, and testbeds to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” These awards were conducted under the SBIR Fast-Track Program, which uses a competitive selection process to award Phase I and Phase II programs simultaneously rather than through two separate competitions. This process allows Fast-Track awardees to conduct research and development of their technologies (Phase I), followed by development of a prototype (Phase II). 

In Fast-Track Phase I, awardees will receive up to $200,000 to establish the merit, feasibility and commercial potential of the proposed research and development. After successful completion of their Phase I projects, awardees are eligible to receive Phase II funding of up to $600,000 to continue their efforts. 

The nearly $4 million in funding that was awarded to 19 small businesses was made through NIST’s annual SBIR solicitation. The competitively selected proposals were submitted in response to a call for innovative products addressing specific technical needs in areas including advanced communications, cybersecurity and privacy, health and biological systems measurements and advanced manufacturing.

These Phase I awardees will receive up to $100,000 to establish the merit, feasibility and commercial potential of the proposed research and development. After completing their Phase I projects, awardees may vie for Phase II funding of up to $400,000 to continue their efforts. Phase III relies on non-SBIR funds for technology commercialization.

2022 SBIR ARP Fast-Track Awardees

3D Array Technology LLC (Storrs, Connecticut) $800,000
Nanostructure Array Integrated Medical Mask Design with High Filtration, Low Breathing Resistance, and Antimicrobial Performances — a new type of nanostructure array (nanoarray) of integrated microfibers to enable medical masks with high filtration efficiency, low breathing resistance and good antimicrobial capabilities.

IC3D Inc. (Columbus, Ohio) $800,000
Regionalized Quality Control Centers for Mobilization of Distributed Additive Manufacturing — a pilot regional additive manufacturing quality control center to address access to appropriate quality control testing facilities for the manufacturing of critical supplies in a pandemic.

Ratiocinative Engineering Services LLC (Boulder, Colorado) $771,619
Multispectral Fluorescence Sensing of Airborne Proxy Infectious Particles in Actual Indoor Environments — a testbed that will lead to more accessible and robust quality control testing of air filtration and ventilation systems in actual built-up environments.  

Vuronyx Technologies (Woburn, Massachusetts) $799,970
Peracetic Acid Based Disinfectant for PPEs — a powder for disinfection of personal protective equipment (PPE), so that the PPE could be reused.

2022 Phase I SBIR Awardees

AAPlasma LLC (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) $99,936
Direct Deposition of Durable Composite Road Marking Material onto Pavement Via Quasi-Equilibrium Plasma — a technology to address the needs of our nation’s physical infrastructure and resilience by reducing costs and improving the reliability of road markings.

Advent Diamond Inc. (Scottsdale, Arizona) $100,000
Phosphorous-doped Quantum Diamond for Electrical-readout Quantum Measurements — a new quantum material consisting of a layer of phosphorus-doped diamond materials for quantum technologies including nitrogen-vacancy center-based sensors. Near-term applications include measuring magnetic fields for research, space-based applications and defense.

Criticality Sciences Inc. (Alexandria, Virginia) $100,000
Network Resilience to Cascading Failure — a software tool that will provide scalable and affordable resilience metrics, as well as mitigation and recovery guidance, to help utilities and communities build resilience against cascading infrastructure failures. 

InfraTrac Inc. (Silver Spring, Maryland) $100,000
Analytical Quality Management for 3D-Printed Small Molecule Drugs — a nondestructive testing technique that uses near-infrared spectroscopy to assess the quality of in-pharmacy 3D drug printing, to support customized pharmacy formulations.

Julia Jean LLC (Irvine, California) $100,000
Streamlining Lithography for Scalable Electron Emission from Microfabricated Porous Silicon Carbide: Advancing a NIST-Patented Technology — to carry forward NIST-patented technology for an electron field emitter that does not rely on a traditionally required heating element and that could be applied to advanced technologies such as lithography, electron microscopy, X-rays, radar and microwave communications.

NuPhy Inc. (Pullman, Washington) $100,000
TreeTracker: An Intelligent Plant Production Optimization — a cloud-capable software platform that provides insights into how best to optimize plant growth, maximize production output, and minimize costs for the process of creating new plants.

Refined Imaging LLC (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) $100,000
Cyber-Physical Trust Anchors with Definable Costs and Security — a technique that will help protect against counterfeit manufactured components by connecting a physical part with a secure database protected by blockchain technology. 

Solution Spray Technologies LLC (Storrs, Connecticut) $100,000
Real-Time Thickness Measurement Technology for Process Control of Plasma-Spray Based Coating Manufacturing — a system that can measure the thickness of coatings on small objects with complex geometries by using lasers to generate ultrasound waves on the coatings.

SPEC Sensors LLC (Newark, California) $99,956
Materials for Gravure Printing of Chemical Gas Sensors — a new process to manufacture high volumes of miniaturized chemical gas sensors that could potentially be embedded in wearable products for a variety of safety applications.

Stratio Inc. (San Francisco, California) $98,381
Low-cost Portable Short Wavelength Infrared Spectrometer (SWIR) — a feasibility study to advance research in SWIR technology that will help the technology to expand into emerging markets such as precision agriculture, night vision, smart mirrors and robotic surgery.

Tiami LLC (Elk Grove, California) $98,681
Digital TV-based Positioning for First Responder Tracking in GPS-Denied Environments — a technology that will enable real-time tracking of first responders in environments where GPS is not an option.

USEncryption (Orlando, Florida) $100,000
Establishing the Security of Ciphers Designed Using Statistical Physics Principles to Enable Direct Computation on Encrypted Data — an approach to enable computation on encrypted data using a new version of an encryption method known as a block cipher as well as a patent-pending method to encrypt both the data and the mathematical functions that operate on encrypted data.

2022 Phase II SBIR Awardees

ChemCubed LLC (Stony Brook, New York) $399,999
Nanocomposite Dielectric Material and Printing Process for Energy Efficient Manufacturing of Printed Circuitry — a project to evaluate the printing and mixing parameters of a new nanocomposite material to find its optimal mechanical properties, and to scope its electrical properties to facilitate new use cases and improved manufacturing.

Colloidal Metrics Corp. (Mountain View, California) $400,000
Innovative Emulsion Polymerization Manufacture of Dual-function, Nanoscale, Calibration Spheres Over the Range of 100 to 400 nm Diameter — a project to extend its ability to manufacture 100 nanometer (nm) polystyrene latex size standards to include 200 and 400 nm latexes and add accurate particle concentration data to all the size standards.

Exum Instruments Inc. (Lakewood, Colorado) $399,839
An Innovative Mass Spectrometer to Simplify Materials Characterization for Additive Materials — a single analytical instrument that offers rapid, high-sensitivity measurements of additive manufacturing (AM) feedstock powders and printed parts.

Irradiant Technologies Inc. (Cambridge, Massachusetts) $399,943
High Throughput Experimental Discovery and Optimization for 3D Nanofabrication of Optical & Photonic Materials and Devices — an experimental discovery system capable of screening for and implementing new materials for the 3D manufacture of novel optical and photonic devices.

Multiscale Systems (Worcester, Massachusetts) $400,000    
Contract-free Optical Metrology for Energy-efficient Manufacturing of Mechanical Metamaterials — the design and production of mechanical metamaterials for lightweight high-strength sandwich panels that outperform comparable foam and honeycomb materials for semi-trailer vehicle lightweighting.

Xallent LLC (Ithaca, New York) $400,000
Nano-Electro-Mechanical-Systems Probe for Thin Film Materials Characterization — a hybrid metrology system that allows for fast, cost-effective and nondestructive characterization of thin film materials and semiconductor devices.

Zymosense Inc. (Ames, Iowa) $400,000
Automated Aqueous Two-phase Separation of Single Walled Carbon Nanotube Species for Enrichment Process Optimization and Scale Up — prototype purified single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) that could greatly expand SWCNT use and practicality for applications including the separation of components in mixtures.

Released September 20, 2022, Updated February 22, 2023