FY 2004 NSF Request: Physics, Materials Research

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Publication date: 
11 February 2003

FY 2004 NSF Request: Physics, Materials Research

The Bush Administration is seeking a 9.0%, or $453 million, increase in funding for the National Science Foundation, as compared to its request of one year ago. The new request of $5,481.2 million is 14.8% greater than the foundation's FY 2002 budget.

The FY 2003 appropriations bill for the National Science Foundation has not been enacted, so it is difficult to determine what baseline to use in making effective comparisons. In the review that follows, the new NSF budget request will be compared to both the Administration's FY 2003 request and the FY 2002 budget.

A fact sheet distributed at the NSF budget briefing last week identified nanoscience and engineering as a priority area that holds "promise for significant breakthroughs in science, education, and technology." It also stated that "For the first time, NSF will surpass $1 billion in 2004 for funding programs in the mathematical and physical sciences, which would be $100 million above the 2003 budget request. This increase renews support for physics, chemistry, and materials sciences - disciplines that are important to continued advances in the health sciences and other areas."

The following are two of the physics-related subactivities from the FY 2004 NSF budget justification to Congress. Readers wishing greater detail than that provided below may consult the budget document at http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/bud/fy2004/toc.htm Future FYIs will review other physics-related and the Education and Human Resources budget requests.

PHYSICS SUBACTIVITY: Up 12.5% or $24.2 million over FY 2003 and up 11.0% or $21.6 million over FY 2002 to a total FY 2004 request of $217.5 million. The budget document explains:

"An increase of $10.68 million in research projects to a total of $140.30 million. PHY will continue to support forefront areas of physics, with some emphasis on particle and nuclear astrophysics, computational and information-intensive physics, quantum information science, biological physics and on advanced R&D towards next generation particle accelerators and gravitational wave detectors. Education and outreach activities will receive continued emphasis: enhancing K-12 science teacher training, expanding diversity within the research community, integrating research and education, and broadening the role physics plays in new and emerging areas of research, including the training of young physicists. Part of this increase will provide support for the new STC in biophotonics ($3.96 million)."

The budget document continues, "An increase of $13.51 million for facilities and research resources to a total of $77.20 million includes: support for full operations of the Michigan State National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory's radioactive ion beam facility for a total of $15.20 million; support full operations of LIGO to a total of $29.0 million as the lab focuses on coincidence observations between the lab's two detector sites as well as with foreign gravitational wave detectors; and an increase of $1.51 million for CESR operations to a total of $21.0 million, to enable exploration of critical weak and strong elementary particle interaction phenomena and to sustain the important accelerator physics research activity at Cornell. Early operations of the LHC ATLAS and CMS detectors will be supported for a total of $10.0 million. Development of grid computing capabilities will continue at a total of $2.0 million."

MATERIALS RESEARCH: Up 12.2% or $26.8 million over FY 2003 and up 12.2% or $26.8 million over FY 2002 to a total FY 2004 request of $246.12 million. The budget document describes the following "enhancements and new activities:"

"DMR will increase support for the NSF priority area in nanoscale science and engineering by $5.30 million to $76.23 million in FY 2004. The increment will include partial support for up to five new nanoscale science and engineering centers, support for new awards through core programs, and support for the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN). Overall DMR support for other NSF priority areas (ITR, BE and Mathematics) will increase by $1.36 million to a total of $12.09 million.

"Support for research into the fundamental physics and chemistry of materials and investigation of materials phenomena in DMR core programs will be enhanced by up to $10.0 million, primarily through awards to individual investigators and focused research groups. This will include enhanced support for Quantum Science and Technology (QST), using the coherent control of quantum phenomena toward applications that may include quantum computing, mesoscopic physics, the manipulation of nuclear or electronic spin states, quantum electronics in nanoscale organic and inorganic materials, and the probing and manipulation of materials processes and properties.

"Up to $2.0 million will be provided to establish four to five additional Partnerships for Research and Education in Materials in FY 2004 (formerly Collaboratives for Materials Research and Education in the FY 2003 Request), enabling minority-serving institutions to strengthen their research and education activities in materials through links to existing materials groups, centers and facilities. Support for international collaboration in materials research and education through centers and disciplinary research programs will be enhanced by up to $3.0 million, and $1.80 million will be provided to establish two to three new International Materials Institutes through open competition.

"An additional $4.50 million will be provided in FY 2004 to enhance operations supporting fundamental research at DMR user facilities, and to plan the development of new mid-scale research resources, including synchrotron and neutron beam lines whose cost and scope is beyond that of the NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program. This amount includes up to $2.0 million to support initial planning for beam line instrumentation at the DOE Spallation Neutron Source (SNS).

"DMR support for the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory will be unchanged at $24.0 million in FY 2004, although an additional $500,000 will be provided to the NHMFL through the Chemistry Subactivity to support the integration of the National High Field Mass Spectrometry Facility into the NHMFL."

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