April 3, 2012

DARPA seeks integration of diverse microsystems components on silicon chips


High-performance microsystems are vital for a wide variety of Defense Department systems that provide U.S. war fighters with technological surprise over adversaries in areas such as communications, sensing and electronic warfare.

Current fabrication technology limits the types of materials and devices that can be integrated together, forcing circuit designers to make compromises when selecting devices for an integrated microsystem.

DARPA’s Diverse Accessible Heterogeneous Integration program is launching the DAHI Foundry Technology effort to advance novel methods for combining a variety of devices and materials onto a single silicon chip.

According to Thomas Lee, office director, DARPA Microsystems Technology Office, “Enabling the ability to ‘mix and match’ a wide variety of devices and materials on a common silicon substrate would allow circuit designers to select the best device for each function within their designs. This integration would provide DoD systems with the benefits of a variety of devices and materials integrated in close proximity on a single chip, minimizing the performance limitations caused by physical separation among devices.”

This effort also seeks to enable complex signal-processing and self-correction architectures to be brought to bear. The DAHI Foundry Technology effort hopes to establish a foundry capability for the production of chips using a wide range of heterogeneously integrated devices.

“DARPA anticipates bringing the compound semiconductor and silicon integrated circuit communities together for new ways to integrate components onto a single silicon wafer,” explained Sanjay Raman, DARPA program manager. “Such convergence would enable foundry-style production of high-performance microsystems, leveraging today’s silicon IC manufacturing base.”

Interested parties are encouraged to attend the proposers’ day on April 18, 2102 in Arlington, VA. The full solicitation and information on registering to attend the proposers’ day workshop can be found at

DAHI builds on the DARPA Compound Semiconductor Materials on Silicon program, which focused on Indium Phosphide (InP) heterojunction bipolar transistor integration with silicon. COSMOS is now one of the DAHI program thrusts, along with Electronic-Photonic Heterogeneous Integration (E-PHI, which kicked off in November, 2011) and this new DAHI Foundry Technology effort.

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