The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting research proposals in the area of MEMS Exchange (MX). Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices or systems. Specifically excluded is research which primarily results in evolutionary improvement to the existing state of practice.
DARPA is soliciting innovative proposals in the area of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) microfabrication process run submissions and process module additions to the MEMS Exchange distributed fabrication network, with the intention of furthering the MEMS Exchange (MX) program goal of providing flexible access to complex MEMS fabrication technology in a wide variety of materials and to a broad multi-disciplinary user base, pursuant to making possible novel devices otherwise unattainable via inflexible foundries. In the area of process run submissions for MEMS devices, submissions that utilize the MEMS Exchange for all steps, from start to finish, except perhaps a final release step, are of most interest. In the area of process module additions, complete, self-contained, multi-mask process modules that can serve as "standard" processes are of most interest. However, single process steps (e.g., a film deposition, an etch capability) will still be considered if exceptionally novel and compelling. Emphasis will be given to multi-mask process modules that are amenable to combination with other modules to yield fully integrated microsystems. Among the relevant set of process module technologies deemed beneficial to the MEMS Exchange service are: (1) generic, widely-applicable, standard processes--e.g., surface-micromachining, SOI-micromachining, metal micromachining, etc.--that yield fully functional MEMS devices; (2) process technologies that yield 3-dimensional structures; and (3) generally applicable technologies capable of packaging MEMS devices under environments suitable for optimum performance. Given that one of the main objectives of the MEMS Exchange program is to insure self-sustained operation of the MEMS Exchange service beyond the end of the program, additional consideration will likely be given to process modules perceived to be in highest demand or capable of satisfying a crucial need by any of the DARPA MEMS programs.
A primary driver behind the interest in process run submissions is to assess the potential advantages of a distributed fabrication network over present-day self-contained foundries, namely:
(1) the ability to achieve otherwise unattainable devices with revolutionary performance enhancements by making available to all users the widest array of process steps, including and especially exotic process capabilities previously usable by only those at isolated fabrication sites;
(2) the ability to circumvent delays due to equipment failure by harnessing multiple equipment redundancies across the fabrication site network, allowing MEMS Exchange to merely route around equipment problems;
(3) the ability to raise the probability of first run success using MEMS Exchange's online automated process design-rule checking software; and
(4) better communication with users via MEMS Exchange's web-based user interface.
Microfabrication process run submissions that utilize the MEMS Exchange for all steps, from start to finish, towards a complete, functional device, are most likely to exercise all of the above aspects of MEMS Exchange, and are thus of most interest.
Another driver behind the interest in process run submissions, and behind the interest in self-contained, multi-mask process modules, is to see if a "standard" MEMS process flow can be identified that is general enough to be used by the majority of MEMS designers in a given class, yet still capable of attaining performance on par with or approaching that of a fully custom process. Such a "universal" MEMS process (or a set of them, one for each "class"), if even possible, would be highly beneficial to the MEMS community, since its ability to support a large number of products could substantially raise the volume of wafers processed per month, thereby greatly lowering the cost of the process, and thus, of the products it services. In essence, such a process might allow the MEMS industry to enjoy the same standardization advantages that the extremely high volume integrated circuit industry presently enjoys.
MEMS devices that harness the material and process flexibility provided by the MEMS Exchange distributed fabrication network are expected to enable a myriad of strategic capabilities. In particular, MEMS technology, with its ability to reduce both size and power consumption in a myriad of sensor, communication, actuation, and information processing devices, has been identified as a key enabling technology for military platforms in all areas. Among the many examples of high payoff applications of MEMS technologies are micromechanical logic circuits for munitions safe-and-arming devices, micromechanical vibrating resonators for frequency selection and generation in miniaturized communication transceivers, micromechanical separation analyzers for chemical gas and bio-agent analysis and detection, movable micromirrors for optical switching and scanning, micro fuel cells and engines for portable, long-lasting power generation, and chip-scale atomic clocks for portable GPS and ultra-secure communications. The most recent advancements in MEMS technology have invariably required participation from researchers from a widely diverse set of backgrounds, many of whom do not have access to the full spectrum of MEMS technologies. In allowing and encouraging the use of a wide variety of materials and fabrication processes by a broad multi-disciplinary user base, the development and enhancement of the MEMS Exchange should prove instrumental in providing the accessibility to MEMS technology required for a myriad of present and future MEMS-enabled devices for military platforms. In addition, MEMS Exchange can serve as a much-needed fabrication infrastructure for low or medium volume production of MEMS-enabled products for DoD applications.
DARPA strongly encourages well-coordinated, interdisciplinary research and development activities that take into consideration all significant and relevant engineering tradeoffs and optimizations. Teaming among academic, industrial and/or government partners is encouraged, and it is anticipated that the contributions of the team members are complementary as well as essential to the critical path of the research plan. Such teaming, however, is not required, and offerings from compelling individual efforts will be given the same consideration as that for teams. A technology insertion plan is encouraged and research that holds promise of insertion into Department of Defense (DoD) relevance is of great interest.
Additional information on these technology areas is provided in the Areas of Interest section of the BAA 05-12 Proposer Information Pamphlet referenced below.
This addition to the MEMS Exchange program is meant to support short-term efforts, on the order of one year or less, that should culminate in either finished devices with statistical data gauging the effectiveness of the MEMS Exchange service; or in the insertion of new process modules into the MEMS Exchange service that greatly enhance its overall capability and increase its user base. Multiple awards in amounts consistent with MEMS Exchange pricing for the Process Run Submission Area of Interest; and not to exceed $200,000 for the Process Module Insertion Area of Interest; and all totaling on the order of $2 million, are expected to be made during the second quarter of fiscal year 2005. Note that funds devoted to the Process Run Submission Area of Interest are intended to cover mainly the cost of fabrication by the MEMS Exchange, and not costs associated with the design or development of any given device. A web site--http://teaming.sysplan.com/BAA-05-12/ has been established to facilitate formation of teaming arrangements between interested parties. Specific content, communications, networking, and team formation are the sole responsibility of the participants. Neither DARPA nor the Department of Defense (DoD) endorses the destination web site or the information and organizations contained therein, nor does DARPA or the DoD exercise any responsibility at the destination. This web site is provided consistent with the stated purpose of this BAA. Cost sharing is not required and is not an evaluation criterion, but is encouraged where there is a reasonable probability of a potential commercial application related to the proposed research and development effort. Questions concerning this BAA may be directed to the technical POC for this effort, Dr. Clark T.-C. Nguyen, phone: (571) 218-4586, fax: (703) 696-2206, electronic mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proposers must obtain a pamphlet entitled "BAA 05-12, MEMS Exchange, Proposer Information Pamphlet" which provides further information on MEMS Exchange, the submission, evaluation, and funding processes, proposal formats, and other general information. This pamphlet may be obtained from the FedBizOpps website: http://www.fedbizopps.gov/, World Wide Web (WWW) at URL http://www.darpa.mil/ or by fax, electronic mail, or mail request to the administrative contact address given below. Proposals not meeting the format described in the pamphlet may not be reviewed. Proposers must submit an original and seven (7) copies of the proposal and two electronic copies (i.e., two separate disks) of the proposal (in PDF - preferred, MS-Word readable, HTML, or ASCII format, each on a single 3.5 inch High Density MS-DOS formatted 1.44 Megabyte (MB) diskette, a single 100 MB Iomega Zip?? disk, or a CD-ROM). Also include on each disk the one-slide PowerPoint file summarizing your proposal, as described under the Proposal Format sub-section of Section I of this BAA. Each disk must be clearly labeled with BAA 05-12, proposer organization, proposal title (short title recommended) and Copy __ of 2. The proposal (original and designated number of hard and electronic copies) must be submitted to DARPA/MTO, 3701 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203-1714 (Attn.: BAA 05-12), and must be received by DARPA on or before 12:00 P.M., local time, Tuesday, February 8, 2005, in order to be considered during the initial round of selections; however, proposals received after this deadline may be received and evaluated up to one year from date of posting on FedBizOpps. Proposals submitted after the due date specified in the BAA may be selected contingent upon the availability of funds. This notice, in conjunction with the BAA 05-12 Proposer Information Pamphlet, constitutes the total BAA. No additional information is available, nor will a formal RFP or other solicitation regarding this announcement be issued. Requests for the same will be disregarded. The Government reserves the right to select for award all, some, or none of the proposals received and to make awards without discussion. All responsible sources capable of satisfying the Government's needs may submit a proposal which shall be considered by DARPA. Input on technical aspects of the proposals may be solicited by DARPA from non-Government consultants/experts who are bound by appropriate non-disclosure requirements. Non-Government technical consultants/experts will not have access to proposals that are labeled by their offerors as "Government Only". Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Institutions (MIs) are encouraged to submit proposals and join others in submitting proposals; however, no portion of this BAA will be set aside for HBCU and MI participation due to the impracticality of reserving discrete or severable areas of research in MEMS Exchange.
All administrative correspondence and questions on this solicitation, including requests for information on how to submit a proposal to this BAA, should be directed to one of the administrative addresses below; e-mail or fax is preferred. DARPA intends to use electronic mail and fax for correspondence regarding BAA 05-12. Proposals may not be submitted by fax or e-mail; any so sent will be disregarded. DARPA encourages use of the WWW for retrieving the Proposer Information Pamphlet and any other related information that may subsequently be provided.
Evaluation of proposals will be accomplished through a technical review of each proposal using the following criteria, which are listed in descending order of relative importance: (l) overall scientific and technical merit, (2) potential contribution and relevance to DARPA mission, (3) plans and capability to accomplish technology transition, (4) offeror's capabilities and related experience, and (5) cost realism. Note: cost realism will only be significant in proposals which have significantly under or over-estimated the cost to complete their effort.
The administrative addresses for this BAA are:
Fax: (703) 351-8710 (Addressed to: DARPA/MTO, BAA 05-12),
Electronic Mail: BAA05email@example.com
Mail: DARPA/MTO, ATTN: BAA 05-12
3701 North Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22203-1714
This announcement and the Proposer Information Pamphlet may be retrieved via the WWW at URL http://www.darpa.mil/ in the solicitations area.
Who can apply:
Eligible functional categories:
Research and Technology Development
MEMS Exchange (MX)
If you have problems accessing the full announcement, please contact:
Department of Defense, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Contracts Management Office