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DoD 2015.C STTR Solicitation
NOTE: The Solicitations and topics listed on this site are copies from the various SBIR agency solicitations and are not necessarily the latest and most up-to-date. For this reason, you should use the agency link listed below which will take you directly to the appropriate agency server where you can read the official version of this solicitation and download the appropriate forms and rules.
The official link for this solicitation is: https://www.dodsbirsttr.mil/
Application Due Date:
Available Funding Topics
Infectious Disease Diagnostics and Differentiation of Viral vs. Bacterial Infections for Point of Care Applications
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Chemical/Biological Defense; Biomedical
OBJECTIVE: To provide an easy to use human clinical diagnostic testing technology which is effective for the detection, identification and differentiation of a wide range of viral and bacterial diseases caused by endemic diseases and biological warfare agents. Capabilities sought should be rapid and highly sensitive and selective solutions with low logistic burden for use in clinics and forward deployed military medical treatment facilities.
DESCRIPTION: The U.S. Department of Defense requires infectious disease in vitro diagnostic (IVD) capabilities that are operationally suitable for use in far forward military environments and operationally effective versus a wide range of threats. Current single use disposable Lateral Flow Immunoassay-based diagnostic tests have many desirable operational suitability characteristics (low cost, minimal training, lightweight, results in 15 minutes, eye readable results, and long shelf life at room temperature) but lack sufficient sensitivity to be clinically useful for most infectious diseases. Current nucleic acid amplification-based diagnostic tests provide adequate sensitivity for many diseases but are slow (>30 minutes), more complex, and have a high cost per test. Lastly, current approaches to detect and identify specific diseases on an individual disease basis do not provide adequate breadth of coverage to fully inform treatment and patient evacuation decisions at the far forward, tactical level of health care on the battlefield. A combination of approaches to individually or syndromically identify diseases for the most common endemic diseases for the deployed military population paired with broad category screening approaches (such as virus vs. bacteria) that would address non-prevalent diseases (such as diseases caused by most Biological Warfare Agents) would provide an informative, yet risk balanced approach to support individual patient treatment, troop evacuation to higher echelon treatment facility/return to duty decisions, and public health decision making.
To be affordable and supportable within the military healthcare system, diagnostic platforms must possess a broad range of capabilities for routine health care and endemic disease diagnostics while being a suitable platform for contingency use of Biological Warfare Agent and emerging disease IVD tests. For this reason, devices or companies with an existing catalog of FDA cleared tests for the U.S. domestic healthcare market and/or syndromic approaches to diagnostics are desired. Additionally, it is desirable for small business offerors to possess established quality management systems and regulatory affairs experience.
This topic seeks to develop novel approaches to provide practical patient diagnostics and screening capabilities at field deployment locations from least-invasive clinical sample types while maintaining desirable operational suitability characteristics.
PHASE I: Conduct proof of concept demonstrations of the specific technical approaches for disease diagnostics and screening (i.e., viral vs. bacterial infection differentiation) in symptomatic patients with high specificity (greater than or equal to 90%) for acute infections (testing occurs within the first 24 hours after symptom on-set) in an operationally suitable platform.
Use of human or animal subjects is not intended, or expected, in order to establish/achieve the necessary proof-ofconcept.
The Government will provide a list of diseases and etiological agents of operational concern (Government Furnished Information (GFI)) to inform the Contractor’s development of a technical approach. The primary emphasis will be for undifferentiated febrile illnesses. A subset is provided below for proposal development purposes:
- Pneumonic Plague
- Endemic typhus
- Scrub typhus
- Lassa Fever
- Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever
The description of the technical approach entails a detailed description of assay designs (bio-recognition elements), signal amplification and transduction techniques, selected sample type, and sample preparation techniques (if any) for a specific diagnostic intended and the description of a proposed clinical trial design and the performers ability to complete product development an achieve FDA regulatory approval within 3-5 years. The description should describe how sufficient inclusivity and specificity will be obtained to inform treatment and/or reflex testing decisions. A phased approach to expanding the inclusivity and intended use over time will be acceptable. Provide an analysis of the envisioned technical approach with respect to the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA) guidelines for CLIA-waived status.
PHASE II: Develop and deliver prototype IVD device and pilot lot assays (if applicable to the system design) to the Government for independent evaluation. Complete pre-submission meetings with the FDA to inform inclusivity, specificity and syndromic approaches for the test and CLIA-waived clinical trial design. The degree of innovation will be measured by the offeror’s ability to achieve a high clinical specificity for a broad range of disease while retaining operationally desirable characteristics (cost < $40 per sample analyzed, training time less than 4 hours, system weight with consumables for 40 tests less than 25 lbs., single sample time to result less than 30 minutes, eye readable results, and consumable shelf life greater than 1 year at 25C).
By the end of Phase II, the offeror will have produced a pre-production prototype of the diagnostic device, optimized the assay design for performance in the relevant clinical sample types, temperature and shelf life stability, and manufacturability and will be ready to begin pre-clinical trials shortly after Phase III award.
PHASE III: Complete the maturation of all hardware, software and reagent elements of the diagnostic device. Conduct pre-clinical and clinical trials and 510(k) package preparation and submission (as the sponsor) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the initial IVD product developed under Phase II. Conduct follow-on developments and FDA clearances of IVD tests for additional known and emerging diseases of operational interest to the U.S. Military. Manufacture IVD devices and assays (as applicable to the technical approach) under current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) and other quality systems and deliver to the Government for operational use by Warfighters. The Government will provide Government Furnished Information (GFI) and Materials (GFM), when not publically available, to support assay design and testing. The Government will provide access to Biological Safety Level (BSL) 3 and 4 testing facilities when needed.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Beyond the diagnostic use for the military population, products of this effort are intended be used in U.S. and European Union domestic health care markets for in vitro diagnostics. Furthermore, for some disease tests, the products of this effort may be useful for companion diagnostics to be used in therapeutic development studies.
KEYWORDS: infectious disease, in vitro diagnostic, point of care, biological warfare agent, biomarkers
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Air Platform, Battlespace, Chemical/Biological Defense, Ground/Sea Vehicles, Human Systems, Nuclear Technology, Sensors, Space Platforms, Weapons
OBJECTIVE: The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) seeks to provide responsive, best value supplies consistently to our customers. DLA continually investigates diverse technologies which would lead to the highest level of innovation in the discrete-parts support of fielded weapon systems (many of which were designed in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s) with a future impact on both commercial technology and government applications. As such, advanced technology demonstrations for affordability and improved industrial practices to demonstrate the combination of enhanced discrete-parts manufacturing and optimized business methods are of interest. All these areas of manufacturing technologies provide potential avenues toward achieving breakthrough advances. Research and Development efforts selected under this topic shall demonstrate and involve a degree of risk where the technical feasibility of the proposed work has not been fully established. Further, proposed efforts must be judged to be at a Technology Readiness Level of less than 6 -- system/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment -- but greater than 3 -- analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof of concept -- to receive funding consideration.
DESCRIPTION: DLA procures thousands of different components made from metals, plastics, composites and/or rubber for use as spares and replacement parts for weapon systems and critical safety equipment. This includes almost every air, land and sea vehicle; and the support equipment for all of those weapons systems that the DoD employs. From missiles, to rifles, vehicles, aircraft and naval systems, to support equipment for troops, problems abound with substandard, nonconforming, improperly processed or manufactured base materials and with counterfeits parts. The DoD weapon systems and warfighters rely on hundreds of defense contractors to purchase subcomponents, or to design, manufacture, process, and assemble parts into the material that will supply the end items’ system and critical subsystems. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), and the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of the U.S. Congress has been busy investigating reports of substandard, substituted, fake, nonconforming, counterfeit, and/or damaged parts in the U.S. supply chain. The GAO claims that 40 percent of the DoD supply chain is suffering an adverse impact from fake or defective parts.
When the mechanical components/raw materials of legacy systems become difficult to source because of obsolescence, company closures/buy-outs, etc., they are usually located and sourced using unauthorized suppliers, or reverse engineered and manufactured by other vendors. Suppliers search for parts and materials from their own stock, contractor or government excess stock, aftermarket sources, and often from internet listing sites, which list available components and materials. Components and or materials from alternate locations, and in particular from internet listing sites, run a high risk of being counterfeit or substandard. Vendors trying to figure out how to reverse engineer items will often have to “guess” at the required materials and manufacturing processes, (example, this can be very difficult when trying to recreate a composite item that may have complicated fabric lay-ups). Some base materials visually appear to be the correct substance with proper processing. They will pass a cursory authenticity evaluation. However, the material below the surface may have different properties and not meet the requirements. The very serious risk comes when parts manufactured from substandard material, or without the proper material processing, enter the DoD supply chain.
For example, there have been a number of situations when improperly processed or counterfeit unfinished materials enter the supply chain. There were two episodes where a heat treatment facility processed and sold tons of incompletely heat-treated aluminum to both Government activities and to industry. These incidents seriously contaminated the U.S. supply chain. Another more recent issue was the use of hot ingot titanium to counterfeit forged and rolled titanium. In all of these cases, there was no technology to sort good items from nonconforming or counterfeit items in a nondestructive method.
The general assumption is that through maximum use of authorized suppliers, the mitigation of risk management for active parts is much less difficult; however, this is not always possible for mechanical items and materials. This risk is present for all purchases from unauthorized suppliers and from reverse engineering activities, regardless of the obsolescence status. There are many needed supply items unavailable from authorized suppliers, and most mechanical items purchased from authorized suppliers (such as a raw unfinished casting or forging) will still require further manufacturing processes (such as final machining, heat treatment, stress relief, shot-peening, chemical coatings, paint, etc.) performed by a contractor to become a finished product useable by the DoD. Things can become even more complex if there is an unapproved substitution of a base material (such as a foreign-made casting, with internal defects or incorrect alloys). Even if the vendor does all the final finishing manufacturing processes correctly, the item(s) made from that material substitution can fail (prematurely or catastrophically).
There are a number of non-destructive methods used for certain types of material authentication. They can include traceability, magnetism (to determine if they are magnetic materials), optical & infrared (if applicable), dimensional inspections, visual (including magnification), chemical, X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), Eddy Current (surface & near surface on conductive materials), and Ultrasound (for nonporous items). While each of these methods can evaluate and test certain materials and mechanical items to a point, they cannot determine if the material has been properly and fully processed, may not be useable on all types of materials, nor (for the most part) determine if a finished items construction is only from authentic materiel. None of these test methods can reliably test or compare properties such as internal hardness, tensile strength, alloy/composite compositions, material lay-ups, and other internal material properties.
This topic solicits innovative technology development with the goal of being able to determine if manufacturing materials/items have undergone the required proper processing and to determine the authenticity of materials/items. To do this will require baseline comparative studies of manufacturing materials’ properties, setting up certain materials with a known certified processing/manufacturing history as reference standards, and then using innovative methods of determining whether the physical properties & characteristics of the base material used to manufacture parts fully meets those standards. The seven most critical requirements for this counterfeit component/nonconforming material avoidance technique are:
- Identify for further development a non-destructive inspection (NDI) method to ensure that the material in a component or in an unfinished state meets all processing requirements, and is not substandard nor does it have nonconforming physical properties.
- Identify for further development a non-destructive inspection (NDI) method to ensure that the material in a component or in an unfinished state is authentic, (not made from counterfeit subcomponents or substances).
- The process must be applicable to both conductive and non-conductive materials (both metallic and non-metallic).
- To the maximum extent practicable, address the prospective costs and benefits of the candidate NDI process.
- To the maximum extent practicable, address the time requirements imposed by the candidate NDI verification processes.
- Develop a comparative “library” of known good materials/items with known good processing as reference standards.
- Initiate the development of a standard for both commercial and Government use.
The performance of development and testing must progress with the goal of meeting the seven critical requirements above. Phase I development work should focus on meeting the first three critical requirements. Phase II should address the fourth and fifth critical requirements (cost-effective and simple fast detection). The third Phase should address the sixth and seventh critical components (“library” development and standard development).
PHASE I: Develop a method for identification of different base materials and different processing of the same materials. This method must be able to determine differences in processing, such as being able to identify similar appearing rubber components made from different rubber mixes, or to sort out components that have been made from the same mix, yet processed differently. This same sort of requirement must also be demonstrable for metals such as aluminum, i.e., with different alloys or the same alloy with different tempers. If Phase I is accomplished, DLA shall approve all test plans.
PHASE II: Develop production-level methods that allow for cost-effective, efficient, positive material identification. Verify the capability to support positive material identification (100 minimum different combinations of known good materials/processing). (Examples could be one series of Aluminum with different tempers, and multiple grades or types of rubbers.) Demonstrate the NDI process for the actual items as well as known counterfeits (e.g. rolled titanium vs cast titanium) to ensure detectability. Acceptable detection methods at this level may include sending samples to the developer’s facility for analysis. Estimate minimum amount of material per component to achieve 100% confidence. Generate a cost model for the implementation. At this point, either the contractor or DLA representatives will solicit other DoD Components, prime contractors, and component manufacturers for endorsement of the effort. The Phase II cost estimate assessments will be a high-ranking factor in determining feasibility.
A partnership with a current or potential supplier to DLA is highly desirable. Identify any commercial benefit or application opportunities of the innovation. Innovative processes should be developed with the intent to readily transition to production in support of DLA and its supply chains.
DLA shall approve all test plans.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Develop a “library” of known certified good materials/items with known good processing as a baseline. Develop a plan to use this baseline to establish in-house counterfeit detectability methods for manufactured components that are 100% accurate. Determine implementation timeframe, and develop a cost and time estimate for developing equipment available for purchase. Situate the equipment for use within the manufacturing and the purchasing facilities to determine whether components are of authentic material. This inhouse assessment capability must be stand-alone, but will include exchange of data with the developer in order to confirm base material properties are accurate. DLA and the developer present final information to DoD to develop plan forward for adoption (e.g., no adoption, adoption for only critical components, full adoption as DLA recognizes that this library will become an on-going effort as new materials are inducted). Initiate the development of a commercial standard for use by both industry and the Government during the development of the “library.”
(Due to the time needed for standards development, this standard does not have to be balloted or released at the end of PHASE III.)
KEYWORDS: Counterfeit, detection, substandard material, nonconforming, fake, conforming, improperly processed, non-destructive testing, NDI, NDT, quality, authentication, verification, unapproved substitution, material substitution, certified, remarking, reference standards, traceability, non-metallic, physical properties and material characteristics
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Information Systems, Sensors
OBJECTIVE: Develop a technique to incorporate variable contextual information to aid object identification and target designation.
DESCRIPTION: When dealing with well-understood threats in a clean environment, a simple formula using a previously defined set of sensor features may be adequate to identify the threat object. However, when encountering novel threats or complex scenarios, a greater capacity to reason with the scene and its environment may be needed. For example, using a broad range of marginal information and behaviors to guide classification logic for the system may be needed. Additionally, expanding individual object identification to include information about all objects in the scene and reasoning on the whole could help resolve the true classification.
The purpose of this topic is to develop a method to utilize all available, relevant information obtained by multiple sensors to aid decision making for object selection. This analysis should involve all tracked objects and their respective features, as well as environmental information, or any type of information which could influence belief in the value of a target. The focus should be on the underlying logic, or calculus, that supports reliable generalization from possibly limited data. The developed technique should be robust to sensor or feature drop-outs and able to provide a system for real time decision making with variable information. In particular, the developed technique should enable reasoning as to which tracked object(s) in a missile complex should be targeted. This approach could utilize Bayesian statistics, probabilistic generative models, probabilistic programming or any reasonable approach which considers the entire engagement. This effort should be able to analyze existing data to learn patterns and structures, as well as to provide a system for real time decision making with variable information.
Recent research into cognitive science has produced representational systems and computational formalisms that may enable the BMDS to more effectively make decisions in novel situations. Static decision paradigms that classify an object with respect to a fixed set of features from a given set of sensors may not be adequate in real time for a highly uncertain engagement where sensors may be unavailable and features may be corrupted.
An innovative method to reason with the battlespace scene as described by multiple sensors is sought. It should be assumed that there are two sensors reporting for the baseline, either two radars, or one radar and one space-based EO/IR sensor. The designed system should demonstrate functionality in the case where one sensor drops out, or various types of corruption or confusion are introduced.
PHASE I: Develop and demonstrate, through proof-of-principle tests, a technique to combine information from multiple sources to identify the target of interest. The system should demonstrate robustness when the scene is degraded, a sensor is lost, and/or features are corrupted. The technique should demonstrate the ability to reason with the scene and use auxiliary information for target determination.
PHASE II: Refine and update concept(s) based on Phase I results and demonstrate the technology in a realistic environment using agency provided engagements. Demonstrate the technology’s ability in a stressed environment; with few sensors and many targets with countermeasures.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Demonstrate the new technologies via operation as part of a complete system or operation in a system-level test bed to allow for testing and evaluation in realistic scenarios. Market technologies developed under this solicitation to relevant missile defense elements directly, or transition them through vendors.
Potential commercial and military uses include areas such as intelligence gathering and analysis, supply chain distribution logistics, automated processing, robotics, and manufacturing processes.
KEYWORDS: Contextual Reasoning, Cognitive Reasoning, Machine Learning, Target Identification, Target Characterization, Computer Vision
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Information Systems
OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate innovative design and analysis techniques to characterize the stability and performance of a system of systems (SoS) as a function of sub-system dynamics, network structure and control/decision processes.
DESCRIPTION: Seek design approaches that balance multiple sub-system network configurations and sub-system and SoS design objectives. Approaches should incorporate the interaction of multiple internal and external control loops and sub-systems with substantially different capabilities. The design and analysis tools must include methods and tools for efficiently specifying, representing, and analyzing the interactions between control systems in SoS. Desire tools capable of determining the degree to which a SoS goal is attainable in a particular network of subsystems and how changes in the system will alter the ability of the SoS to achieve that goal. The overall design approach should incorporate adaptive network configurations and adaptive control robustness of the SoS and subsystem controls. It must also be able to assure stability and convergence to the SoS goals. Approaches must be compatible with simulations, hardware-in-the-loop and human interaction with the simulation. The simulation must be useful for system design, training, and real-time evaluation.
PHASE I: The proposed efforts should identify the fundamentals of the interaction of control loops and apply these fundamentals to the design and analysis of system components. Phase I should culminate in a proof of principle demonstration of these concepts and design tools on representative system components. It is expected that this work will progress from linear, time-invariant, single-input single-output control systems and build on these results in Phase II to include non-linear, multi-input multi-output (MIMO), and non-stationary systems.
PHASE II: Implement selected techniques from Phase I, with the evaluation based on simulation of actual system components. Develop the most promising approaches for application to non-linear, MIMO, and non-stationary systems typical of the system components. Address the issues of reachability of SoS goals given a set of subsystems and the issues of scalability.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Finalize a product that can be used to design the control functions of SoS. This product will be applied to full-scale simulations for SoS design and training. Application to real-time decision-making should also be addressed.
KEYWORDS: Distributed Control, Nonlinear Systems, Simulation, Complex Systems, Systems of Systems
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Air Platform, Information Systems, Sensors
OBJECTIVE: Develop computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software tools to extend modeling capabilities, including turbulence, chemically reactive flow, radiative heat transfer and acoustics, for the prediction of aerospace vehicle signature phenomenology beyond the current state of the art.
DESCRIPTION: Seek CFD software tools that accurately model flight and environment conditions encountered by vehicles operating in the Mach 10 to Mach 20-plus regimes at upper stratospheric altitudes. Novel advanced computational technologies are required to extend current models and simulations of aerospace vehicles to support these high-Mach-number flight regimes. Modeling should include aero-thermal flow and associated atmospheric phenomena (heating, plasma, shock waves, etc.) to yield cross sections and signature predictions. Model output should support including radar (HF through SHF radio frequency) electro-optic/infrared, and acoustic sensors. Model documentation should include relevant physics and credible validation.
PHASE I: Develop concepts for enhancing existing CFD tools to model aero-thermal effects on aerospace vehicles in the extended performance envelope for signature prediction. Demonstrate credibility of proposed models and validation approaches. The contractor should identify the strengths/weaknesses associated with alternative solutions, methods, and concepts.
PHASE II: Develop and validate CFD tools to support aerospace vehicle signature predictions. Provide a performance analysis of the planned CFD capability, complete executable code for the developed modeling and/or signature prediction toolset, and an operator manual. Develop and implement verification and validation of the toolset. Coordinate development efforts with the government to ensure product relevance and compatibility with missile defense projects and government-owned-and-operated information technology.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Collaborate with existing CFD and signature tool developer/users on integration of product(s) into a missile defense application. Update toolset to accommodate new technology advances in aerospace vehicle design modeling. Transition the technology to the appropriate customer for integration and testing.
KEYWORDS: Flight, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Modeling, Signature, Aerospace Vehicle, Midcourse, Tracking, Prediction
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics, Materials/Processes, Sensors
OBJECTIVE: Seeking solutions to reduce spectral crosstalk of dual-band long wave infrared (LWIR) III-V strained layer superlattice (SLS) based infrared (IR) focal plane arrays (FPA)/detectors.
DESCRIPTION: Multi-color FPAs made of III-V SLS semiconductor materials have shown very promising results in recent years. Further improvement in SLS device performance is desired to meet sensor system requirements for long wave applications. One particular technical challenge limiting the utility of dual-band SLS FPAs and detectors is unwanted spectral crosstalk. Some potential sources of spectral crosstalk include:
- Incomplete optical absorption of photons at one absorber due to broadband peak width.
- Low quantum efficiency in each absorber region.
- Radiative recombination of carriers generated by photons at band 1 and emitting into band 2.
- Flawed device barrier architecture.
This topic solicits innovative ideas for the design and fabrication of dual-band detectors and FPAs achieving spectral crosstalk less than 5% for each band while maintaining detector performance. Methods that will sharpen detector cutoff, increase FPA quantum efficiency, and optimize the device design and engineering to eliminate spectral crosstalk root cause, are encouraged.
For this solicitation, assume the following:
- The dual-band infrared detector uses two coupled III-V SLS photodetectors stacked back to back, one operating in the 6 to 8 micrometer band and the other in the 9 to 11 micrometer band.
- The transmission is approximately 90% inside each passband and approximately 0% outside the two passbands.
- An external dual-band filter in the incoming light path can be taken into consideration for out of band blocking. An effective detector anti-reflection coating is acceptable for increasing quantum efficiency and sensitivity.
- Crosstalk arises from leakage due to band overlap.
PHASE I: Determine the root cause(s) of spectral crosstalk via modeling and experimental study. Design, fabricate, and validate a single-element dual-band detector to analyze and verify the correlation of crosstalk reduction with device design parameters. Develop a detailed plan for Phase II implementation.
PHASE II: Demonstrate single-element dual-band detectors with spectral crosstalk of less than 5% (with the external filter). Validation of results at the FPA level is encouraged, with the following performance goal: quantum efficiency larger than 90% in band 1 and 50% in band 2, spectral crosstalk less than 5%, format and pitch: 512 x 512 or larger, 30 micrometer pitch. The FPA should be properly anti-reflection coated and passivated. The median dark current density should be within 10 times of Rule 07.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Either solely, or in partnership with a suitable production foundry, the contractor will implement and verify, in full scale, that the Phase II demonstration technology is economically viable. The contractor will transition the technology to the appropriate prime contractor for the engineering integration and testing.
KEYWORDS: Infrared Focal Plane Array, Long Wave Infrared, Multi-color Infrared Detector, Spectral Crosstalk Reduction
Gold Contaminated Solder Joint Characterization for Quantifying Risks Associated with Gold Embrittlement
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics
OBJECTIVE: Develop a risk forecasting tool for quantifying the risks associated with gold-embrittled solder joints in electronic assemblies. Specifically, the model should accurately assess the likelihood of solder joint failure given specific environmental stress conditions (vibrational and thermal shock).
DESCRIPTION: Circuit card assemblies (CCAs) are common in military hardware and the reliability of these CCAs is strongly dependent on the solder joints that join components and connectors to the printed circuit boards. Maximizing the reliability of solder joints is essential to maximizing the reliability of the hardware. Assembly standards for electronics, such as J-STD-001, list requirements designed to ensure solder joint reliability, including requirements designed to avoid or mitigate the risks associated with gold embrittled solder joints. The industry rule of thumb is that concentrations below 3 percent gold by weight are acceptable, but this is not a guarantee of risk mitigation as failures have been reported with joints having as low as 1.7 percent.
Considerable research (references 1-4) has documented the vulnerability of solder joints to gold embrittlement. As a result, industry standards have been developed to guide CCA manufacturers and mitigate the likelihood of circuit failure. However, under many conditions, CCA’s cannot avoid some level of gold contamination in solder joints. The level of gold contamination can be quantified by non-destructive test.
The purpose of this topic is to develop a model that will determine the risk of failure of gold-contaminated solder joints, for a variety of solder joint configurations, due to mechanical and thermal shock The model could be used for both: Specifying the environmental limits for the relevant military hardware; and, quantifying the likelihood of failure of the hardware given its exposure to measured/or expected mechanical and thermal conditions. Project Managers must decide if the assembly will be accepted or rejected, balancing reliability, budgeting, and scheduling impacts.
PHASE I: Develop the conceptual framework for failure mode testing to evaluate the variables affecting the reliability of gold contaminated solder joints. This framework should include methods of assessing gold concentration and distribution for a variety of packaging and termination types, favoring non-destructive testing whenever possible. The framework should also consider if data generated is strictly empirical or if the data can be used for mechanistic modeling. Preference is given to mechanistic modeling as it allows for a flexible risk assessment approach. Simple physical tests should be conducted to demonstrate proof of concept.
PHASE II: Execute physical testing and integrate any applicable data into mechanistic modeling with statistical analysis. Demonstrate the measurement method for identifying gold concentration and distribution in solder joints and at interfaces. Identify and quantify solder joint and CCA specific risk variables.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Work with existing contractors and standards organizations to implement risk assessment parameters with preference given to a model that can be used across a wide variety of manufacturers. Measurement methods/protocols should be integrated into applicable industrial standards and best practices.
KEYWORDS: Solder Joint reliability, Gold Embrittlement, Au Embrittlement
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics, Materials/Processes
OBJECTIVE: Design and develop a tabletop-scale, real-time nanoscope for three-dimensional imaging with ~13 nanometer spatial resolution.
DESCRIPTION: There is a critical DoD need for the development of next generation microelectronics along with the supporting metrology infrastructure for their cost- effective fabrication. Maintaining state-of-the-art microelectronics is key to future DoD technology dominance. New sources of soft x-ray and extreme ultraviolet radiation are key to the development of nondestructive imaging technologies necessary for nanometrology in support of extreme ultraviolet photolithography and ultimately for an understanding of nanoscale phenomena in fields as diverse as next generation electronics and subcellular biological structure and function. Properties such as short wavelengths allowing for high spatial resolution, deep sample penetration depth, and elemental specificity deployed in nondestructive imaging modalities without invasive sample preparation have been exploited in laboratory proof-of-concept demonstrations. However, bright sources with imaging capabilities at or below ~13 nm are largely limited to user facility-scale synchrotrons and free electron lasers, limiting the wider impact of soft xray/extreme ultraviolet imaging and spectroscopy. Recent advances in efficient generation of laser-driven, high flux soft x-ray and extreme ultraviolet radiation and efficient x-ray/extreme ultraviolet imaging modalities demonstrate that the required performance specifications for a ~13 nm spatial resolution nanoscope with table-top form factor are now within reach.
PHASE I: Design a tabletop-scale nanoscope for real-time imaging at ~13 nm spatial resolution. Source wavelength should also be at or below 13 nm (i.e. for actinic mask inspection). Source design parameters, including soft xray/extreme ultraviolet flux, efficiencies, and imaging modality/acquisition should be driven by the requirements for:
- Real-time three-dimensional image acquisition (including both data acquisition and image processing). Proposers should quantitatively define real-time image acquisition and update speed/frame rate in the context of the proposed design;
- Adaptability for imaging a variety of specimens in multiple environments: i.e., the nanoscope technology should be agnostic to the imaged sample without requiring invasive sample preparation to the extent possible. Specific samples of interest include, but are not limited to, nanostructured electronics under test or cryogenically cooled, unsectioned biological samples, requiring large working distances of several centimeters and wide field of view, as well as the ability to image internal/buried structures in thick, >1 micron, samples. Proposers may identify additional applications and specimens for imaging.
Proposers may also identify applications beyond single wavelength imaging to exploit source coherence, spectral tunability (chemically selective/hyperspectral imaging and spectroscopy), and temporal resolution for ultrafast dynamics.
Phase I deliverables include a design review (soft x-ray/extreme ultraviolet source, sample staging/imaging apparatus, imaging modality and associated image acquisition electronics) including expected design performance and a report presenting Phase II plans. Experimental data demonstrating feasibility of the proposed device is favorable.
PHASE II: Fabricate and test a prototype device demonstrating the performance outlined in Phase I. The Phase II prototype must integrate all key subsystems and demonstrate performance in a tabletop-scale form factor at Technology Readiness Level 4: component/subsystem validation in a laboratory environment.
Phase II deliverables include validation of device performance by imaging a sample nanostructured semiconductor specimen provided by or arranged for by DARPA with spatial resolution and frame rate as defined in the Phase I report. Selected teams will work with the DARPA program manager to arrange for delivery and test of validation samples.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Given the large demand for x-ray microscopy at x-ray free electron lasers and third generation synchrotrons, the proposed tabletop nanoscope will serve as a prototype for commercial systems to be installed directly into the user’s laboratory or industrial facility. The application space for nanoscale microscopy includes fields as diverse as biology (subcellular imaging), electronics (semiconductor devices), and materials science (fracture and crack formation, engineered microstructures). The push for extreme ultraviolet photolithography, for example, has resulted in the installation of microscope beamlines for mask inspection at synchrotron sources (SEMATECH Berkeley Actinic Inspection Tool at the Advanced Light Source and the EUV Microscope at NewSUBARU).
The DoD will directly benefit from the new physical insights made possible by the development of tabletop-scale nanoscopes with 13 nanometer resolution, leading to next generation microelectronics along with the supporting metrology infrastructure for their cost- effective fabrication. The introduction of x-ray/extreme ultraviolet nanoscopes into biology and biochemistry laboratories will enable a better understanding of pathogens on the subcellular level.
KEYWORDS: x-ray microscope, soft x-ray, extreme ultraviolet, x-ray imaging, x-ray laser, coherent diffractive imaging, nanoscope
TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Information Systems, Materials/Processes
OBJECTIVE: Demonstrate that, in certain critical applications, analog processing architectures can significantly outperform the equivalent digital architectures and motivate the larger development and use of analog methods DARPA broadly in defense systems.
DESCRIPTION: The efficient simulation of complex systems is of fundamental importance to the Department of Defense (DoD), the scientific community, and the commercial sector. However, today’s digital computational architectures are in many cases ill-suited to the mathematical models that power these simulations. Recent research suggests that analog processors could be used in hybrid continuous-digital systems to accelerate computational problems that are intractable with current discrete variable encoding and serial processing.
The general purpose computer, conceived in the 1930’s by Turing, was at first too large and slow to be practical in most applications. As late as the 1960’s a mainstay of computation, particularly for controls and signal processing, was analog processing, first mechanical and then electrical. But by the 1970’s the development of the digital integrated circuit, high capacity memory, and high level programming languages pushed analog computing into the background.
Nevertheless, because of analog computation’s repertoire of rich primitives and its inherent parallel architecture, analog computation can still be far faster, more efficient, and more compact than digital computation for many applications. For example, an 8-bit multiplication of two currents in analog computation takes 4 to 8 transistors, whereas a parallel 8-bit multiply in digital computation takes approximately 3000 transistors. Furthermore, recent advances in op-amp performance (several Ghz) and re-configurability (introduction of the field programmable analog array) could commend analog processing for applications requiring high performance but constrained by low size, weight, and power.
Analog systems may have other important advantages over digital systems. First, as a natural solver of partial differential equations, the analog computer can be a much closer proxy to the actual physical processes that it is used to compute. This should mean that it is more effective at modeling “stiff” systems of equations (incompressible fluid flow, for instance) and should be much less affected by discretization errors. In addition, analog processing is immune to single event upsets, and may be less vulnerable to tampering.
This STTR seeks innovative approaches to demonstrate in actual hardware the ability of analog or hybrid-analog computation to outperform digital architecture employed in current applications. Such applications may include image processing, mathematical simulation of complex systems, parametric design exploration and optimization, etc. The demonstration may be as a standalone processor or as a coprocessor in a digital system and must be relevant to a national security problem.
PHASE I: Develop an analog architecture for efficient computation of partial differential equations. Identify the computational substrate and the physical dynamics of the structure that will encode or instantiate the analog representation. Describe how the analog processes will perform computation, and how the results will be measured. Define a target problem class informed by current computational and analytic limitations. Estimate the relative theoretical speedup versus best-in-class numerical or analytic alternatives, how the method scales to problem size/dimensionality, and any restrictions on the generalizability of the approach. Phase I deliverable is a final report documenting effort and results.
PHASE II: Demonstrate the key technical principles behind the proposed computational substrate. The demonstration should validate the predicted superior performance of the analog approach over a comparable digital approach and show the relevance of the demonstration to at least three real-world applications. The required deliverables for the end of Phase II include a prototype implementation of the techniques defined in Phase I and a final report that includes the demonstration system design and test results.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: A successful Phase II demonstration will motivate a number of applications and insertions into commercial systems (natural language understanding, transportation optimization, power management, etc.).
A successful Phase II demonstration will enable a number of applications and insertions into defense systems (onDARPA board processing, space systems, automatic target recognition, etc.).
KEYWORDS: analog, digital, array, massively parallel, optimization, signal processing