AFRL is issuing a challenge to explore and demonstrate technologies in three key technical domains:
1) Ultra-Wideband & Robust Electronics: The objective of this technical domain is to leverage advanced GaN and/or silicon technologies to explore novel circuit techniques to enable ultra-high dynamic range receiver front-end.
The deployment of 5G technology has increased the proliferation of broadband cellular communication technology covering frequencies from 100s of MHz to mm-waves in order to significantly enhance data throughput, capacity, and efficiency. As a result, the electromagnetic spectrum is highly congested not only at the traditional cellular bands (below C-Band), but are extending into the mm-Wave regime. The net result is a significant increase in EM interferences for current & future DoD systems. Toward that end, AFRL is seeking to explore novel circuit and system architectures to develop leap-ahead technologies capable of “Ultra-Wideband, Robust Electronics operating at RF frequency from MHz to Ku-Band and advanced mm-Wave technology to extend the frequency of operation up W-band. Furthermore, we are interested in adding an intelligent control to the hardware which will allow future systems to deal with dynamically congested & contested spectrum.
2) Advanced Mm-Wave Technology: This domain is to explore and develop mm-Wave capabilities with significant advancements to the commercial capabilities wrt the hardware infrastructure. The focus of this domain should include the development of a mm-Wave integrated front-end with a low cost, high yield Packaging solution
a. Highly integrated RF Front-End
b. Low cost mm-Wave packaging
3) Embedded Intelligent for autonomous operation: Focus on the development of advanced machine learning techniques to enable dynamic efficient spectrum management
a. Develop machine learning algorithm for intelligent controls of the first-two domains to enable autonomous operation based-on spectrum sensing
This is one of the challenges that the Air Force Research Laboratory is sponsoring to create products required by the Air Force. In the first phase of this contest, participants will submit white papers describing their basic approach (i.e. the proposed manufacturing process and equipment), the technical risks and mitigation strategies, and the submitter’s relevant expertise. Potential team will submit a 4-page white paper detailing the pursuit of one of technical domains listed above (if wanting to submit to all three you will provide one whitepaper for each domain). The first-three pages should describe the proposed research plan including circuit & system architectures, technical approach, schedule and milestones. The white paper should outline a dual use (Military and/or Commercial) circuit for enhanced performance. The last page will describe team member experiences and supporting infrastructures. Papers will be evaluated based on:
– Innovativeness of the technical approach.
– Realism of research plan including schedule and milestones
These white papers will be down selected from the viable entrees (potential awardees), and the chosen proposers will then be given a 1-hour time slot to pitch their concept to the evaluation team. The proposed solution should be scoped for a two phase technical effort. Phase I consists of technology or architectural trade studies and the proposed value of the concept to the military and commercial markets. This could be done with modeling and simulation in AWR, ADS, or Simulink as examples. Phase I consists of a two-to-three-month technical effort with the output being a final report highlighting results of the trade study. If the report is convincing that there is good Military and commercial potential the team will be awarded with a Phase II follow on effort focusing on creating an advanced technology demonstration that will be coordinated with the team. Phase II will be a 12-month technical effort to demonstrate key concepts showing the feasibility of the proposed leap-ahead technology.
Responding to concerns the U.S. is increasingly reliant on imported microelectronics, Congress enacted the bipartisan Creating Helpful Incentives for Producing Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act in December as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, its annual defense policy update. The legislation authorizes an array of R&D initiatives as well as a subsidy program for domestic semiconductor manufacturers.
The effort to bolster domestic R&D and manufacturing is linked to concerns that relying on foreign components carries significant risks related to chip security and supply disruptions. As such, participants in the subsidy program are restricted from engaging in joint research or technology licensing with any “foreign entity of concern,” defined broadly to include any entity deemed to have “engaged in unauthorized conduct that is detrimental to the national security or foreign policy of the United States.” The legislation also stipulates that federal agencies receiving certain R&D funds must develop policies to protect any resulting intellectual property from “foreign adversaries.” Therefore this award challenge is limited to “US Persons” in Academia or industry. The winner of any award will have to provide proof of citizenship to be awarded the prize.
The goal of this challenge is to identify key leap ahead ideas that could be turned into commercial products for military and/or commercial use.
Awards:- Up to $85,000 each