Chemical Structure, Dynamics, and Mechanisms A (CSDM-A)

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Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 22-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after October 4, 2021. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 22-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.


Proposals submitted to this program (including individual and collaborative proposals, GOALIs) must be submitted to the CHE Disciplinary Research Programs solicitation.


  • RUI proposals must be submitted to the RUI Solicitation during the regular proposal submission window for this program.
  • Proposals submitted in response to another solicitation (CAREER) should follow the solicitation guidelines (e.g. CAREER)
  • Conference, workshop, EAGER, RAPID or RAISE proposals must be discussed with a Program Officer before submission, and then should only be submitted as instructed.


The Chemical Structure, Dynamics, and Mechanisms (CSDM) Program supports research projects that have strong implications for advancing the foundational knowledge of chemical systems. The Program supports research on the nature of chemical structure, chemical structure property studies, chemical dynamics, and chemical mechanisms. The CSDM Program is divided into two sub-programs, CSDM-A and CSDM-B. At coarse resolution, the CSDM-A Program may be seen as encompassing the sub-disciplines of experimental physical chemistry and applied computational physical chemistry, while CSDM-B is the venue for physical organic and physical inorganic chemistry. The research supported by the two Programs may also be distinguished in terms of whether their goal is to use existing experimental methods and current conceptual frameworks to understand and describe physical processes in molecules and materials that are becoming increasingly relevant in modern applications (CSDM-B), or to challenge the way we think about physical phenomena in chemical systems through the development of innovative experimental approaches and new conceptual models (CSDM-A). Projects supported by CSDM-A typically involve in-depth analysis of experimental data at the quantum- or statistical-mechanical level, often with an outcome being the modification or updating of the theoretical model. Projects supported by CSDM-B also rely on theory to interpret structure-function relationships, but tend to focus on the consequence of structure (or changes in structure) on reactivity and other behaviors.

Projects involving nanochemistry or chemistry of biological systems should consult the Macromolecular, Supramolecular, and Nanochemistry (MSN) or Chemistry of Life Processes (CLP) Programs, respectively. Proposals for projects whose primary goal is the development of an entirely new instrumental technique, or enhanced performance or understanding of an existing technique, may be more appropriate for the Chemical Measurement and Imaging (CMI) Program. In general, research focused on solid-state chemical processes are not supported by CSDM. Investigators interested in this area should consult with the Solid State Materials Chemistry (SSMC) Program in the Division of Materials Research (DMR). Projects for which the primary goal is the development of a practical device are not supported by the CSDM-A and CSDM-B Programs and should be submitted to an appropriate program in the Engineering Directorate.

The following Program Descriptions are intended to guide the proposer to the most appropriate sub-program for her/his research.  


The Chemical Structure, Dynamics, and Mechanisms-A (CSDM-A) Program supports experimental and applied computational research directed at increasing our fundamental understanding of the physical properties of chemical systems at the quantum and/or statistical mechanical level. Projects of interest to CSDM-A rely heavily on the advancement of sophisticated experimental techniques, such as: state-selective methods, time and frequency domain spectroscopies, microscopies, single-molecule methods, scattering and diffraction approaches, and surface characterization techniques. The program is interested in projects where the development of novel methods enables the physical behavior of chemical systems to be viewed in new ways, or in ways that challenge current paradigms.  Chemical systems studied range in complexity and include isolated molecules and ions, liquids, clusters, surfaces, and interfaces. The CSDM-A Program also supports applied computational chemistry activities that demonstrate strong synergy with experiment.  Investigators who plan on submitting proposals on primarily computational projects are advised that their proposals will be reviewed by experimentalists and experts in computational chemistry.

Through the Critical Aspects of Sustainability (CAS) program, the Division of Chemistry looks to support basic research aimed at improving the sustainability of resources for future generations while maintaining or improving current products within a global society. Examples of topics related to sustainable chemistry appropriate for the Chemical Structure, Dynamics, and Mechanism (CSDM-A) Program include, but are not limited to: the study of surface interactions important in green chemistry, detailed characterization of environmentally relevant chemical reactions for mechanistic understanding, and investigation of fundamental dynamical processes underpinning clean energy technologies.

PIs are encouraged to monitor current funding priorities identified by the Foundation and the Executive and Legislative Branches, and to highlight relevant synergies in their Project Summaries and Program Descriptions.

For recent awards made by the program, search NSF award database with the Program Element Code 9101.

Program Contacts

Administrative Program Support: Valerie Maizel or (703) 292-2271.

John M. Papanikolas (703) 292-8173 MPS/CHE
Rebecca Peebles (703) 292-8809 MPS/CHE
Christopher Elles (703) 292-8840 MPS/CHE
Amanda Haes (703) 292-7909 MPS/CHE
Anne-marie Schmoltner (703) 292-4716 MPS/CHE

Awards Made Through This Program

Browse projects funded by this program
Map of recent awards made through this program