SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  N07-035 (Navy)
Title:  Development of Cost-Effective Rapid Turn-Around Mask Making Systems and Low-Volume Military Integrated Circuit (IC) Manufacture
Research & Technical Areas:  Materials/Processes, Electronics

Acquisition Program:  ACAT I
  Objective:  Provide a cost-effective commercial source of rapid turn-around mask supply for small-volume military IC production and prototyping. Reduce the time and costs for patterning masks.
  Description:  Military systems achieve “force multiplier” capabilities through the use of application-specific IC (ASIC) chips. These components are generally used in very small volume.(Less than a total of 1,000 components would satisfy the total system requirement including spares). Despite the small production requirement, military chip acquisition is a challenge. Components must be “cutting-edge” in performance and design turn around must be rapid. While major system insertion times are longer than a decade, important system modification and/or mission specific technology insertion is considerably more rapid. A given conflict may require turn-around times (from design to component) of less than a year. One of the major bottlenecks in ASIC production (in terms of cost and turn-around time) is photomask making. Photomasks are the “negatives,” or blueprints from which IC chips are built. To make a cutting edge mask set today requires over a month of direct labor and a cost that may approach a million dollars. Many new mask systems that make use of writing tool parallelism (multi-beam approaches) are currently in development. These novel tools could supply the necessary masks rapidly and cheaply at costs an order of magnitude less than commercial IC mask makers. It is the aim of this solicitation to bring one of these novel systems up to production standard for use in military chip supply.

  PHASE I: Demonstrate the scientific merit and capabilities of the proposed novel small-volume mask or wafer production tool. Provide prototype masks or wafers to ascertain the level of system maturity and to point the way to reliable manufacture of the finished tool.
  PHASE II: Fabricate and characterize a beta-tool for evaluation and field-testing. Depending on the specific tool concept, alpha-tools may be substituted in lieu of beta-tools should the Government agree with the offeror that such tools would satisfy establishing the business case for small lot fabrication.

  PHASE III: Develop the necessary manufacturing base to supply the completed tool to military system and component vendors. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/

  DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Successful development of this mask-making tool will provide a small business with a long-term product that will be of enormous use to military design engineers. In addition, many commercial electronics suppliers require such small-volume production for prototyping and production. Not all commercial electronics systems require tens of millions of parts to be successful in the business market. Many large (and expensive) systems, like mainframe computers, are not sold in volume. But they do require cutting-edge technology to gain customer advantage. The ASIC market world-wide has supported such requirements.

  References:  1. Report of the Defense Science Board on High Performance Microchip Supply, February 2005. (see especially recommendation number 5) 2. Principles of Lithography, Second Edition (SPIE Press Monograph Vol. PM146), Harry J. Levinson, SPIE Press, 2005. 3. Mask Industry Cooperative Working Group (MICWG) Briefing to DUSD(S&T) dtd. 3/18/2005. (attached to electronic mail sent to the NAVAIR SBIR/STTR Office) 4. A general description of multibeam approaches is found for sale at: <>

Keywords:  IC Production; ASIC production; Chip Production; Photomasks

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