Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Microchips and Components

Relating to miniaturized electronic circuitry and its components and features

Showing 25 results for Microchips RSS
Microelectronics support nearly all Department of Defense (DoD) activities, enabling capabilities such as the global positioning system, radar, command and control, and communications. Ensuring secure access to leading-edge microelectronics, however, is a challenge. The changing global semiconductor industry and the sophistication of U.S. adversaries, who might target military electronic components, suggest the need for an updated microelectronics security framework.
Beginning in the mid-1970s, DARPA orchestrated extensive research into the semiconductor material gallium arsenide, which could host faster transistors operating at higher power than could silicon. The work would contribute to subsequent DARPA-spurred achievement in the 1980s to miniaturize receivers for GPS. That technology, in conjunction with DARPA-developed advances in inertial navigation, expanded the Nation’s arsenal of precision-guided munitions (PGMs) through such innovations as “bolt-on” Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) GPS kits, which gave otherwise unguided or laser-guided munitions new, high-precision capabilities. Key to these developments were gallium arsenide chips developed through DARPA’s Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit program, which also enabled the radio frequency (RF) and millimeter-wave circuits needed in precision weapons.
Intrachip/Interchip Enhanced Cooling (ICECool) The increased density of electronic components and subsystems in military electronic systems exacerbates the thermal management challenges facing engineers. The military platforms that host these systems often cannot physically accommodate the large cooling systems needed for thermal management, meaning that heat can be a limiting factor for performance of electronics and embedded computers.
To hasten development in the microelectronics arena of very large-scale integration (VLSI), DARPA funded Metal Oxide Silicon Implementation Service, or MOSIS. The service provided a fast-turnaround (four to ten weeks), low-cost ability to run limited batches of custom and semicustom microelectronic devices. By decoupling researchers from the need to have direct access to fabrication facilities and to negotiate the complexities of producing microelectronic chips, MOSIS opened innovation in this space to players who otherwise might have been precluded. A key aspect of MOSIS was the pooling of several chip designs onto a single semiconductor wafer. MOSIS opened for business in January 1981 and a MOSIS service was still available in nearly 40 years later.
Beginning in 1987, the SEMATECH consortium received funding from the Federal Government to help revitalize the U.S. chipmaking industry. SEMATECH is an acronym that derives from Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology A decade after its founding, in 1997, the consortium was standing on its own without annual funding from the Government. It has since spawned other organizations, such as the International Semiconductor Manufacturing Initiative with a focus on manufacturing equipment and operations.