Welcome
to EFRI

The Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) strives to keep the nation at the forefront of engineering discoveries. A part of the Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation (NSF), EFRI serves a critical role in pursuing timely investments in creative ideas that can push engineering research beyond its apparent limits.

How the brain controls the hand

How the brain controls the hand

A testbed device is helping researchers model "manual dexterity" to enable machines capable of more accurately mimicking human hands

   

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Early ovarian cancer detection

Early ovarian cancer detection

White light illuminates samples in a novel biophotonics technology that enables early detection of ovarian cancer

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Autonomous Machines

Autonomous Machines

Creating robots that “think” and materials that can be programmed to achieve specific shapes on their own could change how we build machines

   

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Functional Contact Lens

Functional Contact Lens

Integrating a glucose sensor into a contact lens could ease the pain and inconvenience of monitoring blood sugar levels

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Smarts from fish

Smarts from fish

Mimicking fish motor and sensing abilities could help develop artificial sensors and muscles for vehicles, prostethics, and robots, among other applications

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Power of Biocatalysts

Power of Biocatalysts

Understanding how some plants, insects, and algae produce hydrocarbons could help develop a catalyst for producing petroleum

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Producing medicines and fuels from tree fungi

Producing medicines and fuels from tree fungi

One promising substitute for fossil fuels could come from endophytic fungi – fungi that live inside plants.

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Learning from plants

Learning from plants

Duplicating the intelligence and resilience of plants would represent a major technological leap forward in transportation, construction, and other areas

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Program News

In the Media

  • Contact lenses that integrate biosensors, an EFRI-funded project at the University of Washington, drew widespread media interest when Google announced it intended to develop a glucose-sensing lens. Leaders of the Google project, including Babak Parviz and Brian Otis, said the lens would help diabetics manage their disease. The scientists worked on integrating a range of bio-sensors at the University of Washington, where the EFRI-funded research continues under lead investigator Karl Bohringer.

  • A technology that one day might enable IKEA bookcases to assemble themselves from flat shipping boxes was recently featured on National Public Radio's website. The EFRI-funded research is showing how materials used in 3D printers can incorporate “shape memory” that later enables an object to fold into a desired shape. Time is the added dimension in what's called “4D printing” by a research team led by H. Jerry Qi of the University of Colorado-Boulder.

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Honors

  • President Barack Obama awarded the U.S. government’s highest honor for science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers to EFRI researcher Sridevi Sarma of Johns Hopkins University. The award recognized Dr. Sarma’s work toward transforming the control of electrical deep brain stimulation for the treatment of Parkinson's disease, and for innovative educational and outreach activities.

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