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NEWS | Aug. 11, 2022

CHIPS Act advances DOD's emphasis on microelectronics

By C. Todd Lopez DOD News

In February, Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, spelled out 14 technology areas of critical importance to the Defense Department. Among those are biotechnology, renewable energy generation and storage, and directed energy. But the $54.2 billion CHIPS Act, signed Aug. 9, advances another of those top priorities for the department: microelectronics. 

A seated woman looks at a computer monitor.
Barbara McQuiston
Barbara McQuiston, deputy chief technology officer for science and technology, delivers a virtual keynote during Federal Computer Week’s Emerging Technology Workshop Guides at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Aug. 10, 2022.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James K. Lee
VIRIN: 220810-D-WA993-1002

"Let me take a moment and share with you what a banner day yesterday was [with] the signing of the CHIPS Act — revitalizing the domestic capabilities for microelectronics," said Barbara McQuiston, deputy chief technology officer of science and technology, during a virtual discussion Aug. 10 at Federal Computer Week's Emerging Technology Workshop. 

The CHIPS Act, she said, provides both investment and incentive funding to build semiconductor manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and to advance research and development activities at both the national and regional levels. 

In addition, the law includes large investment in a national research and development center, an advanced packaging manufacturing program, and up to three manufacturing institutes in the U.S. for semiconductor-related manufacturing, McQuiston said. 

"The legislation also provides $2 billion over five years for microelectronics, which envisions a national network of onshore prototyping, lab-to-fab transition in semiconductor technologies, including the Department of Defense-unique applications, and semiconductor workforce training," she said. "I think this is incredibly important for emergent technology, because as we have new ideas — new technologies coming forward — they can be rapidly prototyped and tested and put forward for accelerating technology into the marketplace and into the industrial base." 

A photo shows a circuit board.
Circuit Board
A circuit board contains multiple examples of important microelectronics innovation. The Defense Department's microelectronics commons aims to close gaps in America's ability to bring new microelectronics technology to market.
Photo By: C. Todd Lopez
VIRIN: 201103-D-NU123-003

McQuiston said investment in all 14 technology areas is vital to maintaining U.S. national security. 

"As we work on our own science and technology portfolio, we strategize on these investments as our allies and we work together along with industry and domestic partners to prioritize investments in these emerging areas," she said. 

The 11 other critical technology areas outlined by Shyu include quantum science; future-generation wireless technology; advanced materials; trusted artificial intelligence and autonomy; integrated network systems-of-systems; microelectronics; space technology; advanced computing and software; human-machine interfaces; hypersonics; and integrated sensing and cyber.