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FHE for Defense Applications Workshop Participants Enthusiastic about DoD Requirements

By Scott Miller, Director of Strategic Programs, NextFlex

L to R Mark Gordon, NextFlex Liaison to OSD/ManTech, Manufacturing Strategies, Inc, Giorgio Bazzan, NextFlex Government CTO, AFRL, Robert Gold, Director, Technology and Manufacturing Industrial Base, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and Eric Forsythe, NextFlex Program Manager, ARL.

NextFlex held its latest workshop entitled, “FHE for Defense Applications,” at Lockheed Martin’s Global Vision Center in Arlington, VA, June 12-13. Attended by 102 industry, academia, and government partners, the workshop focused on three strategic areas for the Department of Defense: Microelectronics Assembly and Packaging, Missiles and Munitions, and Command, Control, Communications, and High-power RF. Each of these areas were addressed by subject matter experts who presented state of the art views on requirements, technology development, manufacturability, and reliability from the perspective of DoD, industry, and academic ecosystem partners.

NextFlex’s Director of Strategic Programs, Scott Miller opens the workshop with Dr. Robert Gold.

Dr. Robert Gold, Director of Technology and Manufacturing Industrial Base, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, opened the workshop with a talk about how the Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering Dr. Mike Griffin’s priorities drive the Department of Defense directions and investments. He spoke about moving defense technology development at the speed of warfighter relevance and described the DoD’s focus in the context of mission and technology modernization.  He said that flexible hybrid electronics will transform microelectronics for the future and is well positioned to support many of the DoD modernization priorities. Mr. Gold has met with each of the eight DoD institutes to review the business case and technology focus to identify new opportunities to align institute agendas strategically, now that the concept of public-private partnerships has been tested and proven. He closed by asking the audience to keep up the good work, to stay tuned for developments, and that he was looking forward to what’s next from the NextFlex community.

L to R Session 1 panelists: Pradeep Lall (Auburn University), Mary Herndon (Rathyeon), Peter Phelps (DoD), Eric Forsythe (ARL), and Wilfried Bair (NextFlex), moderated by Dan Hines (Labratory for Physical Sciences).

The first session was chaired by Dan Hines from the Laboratory for Physical Sciences and focused on Microelectronics Assembly and Packaging.  Speakers discussed using FHE manufacturing technologies for building several kinds of electronic systems and showed the development process from prototype to low volume production and discussed the important topic of reliability and low defect rates.  Use of FHE fabrication processes for assembly and packaging of multi-chip modules and for repair of legacy circuit cards showed how FHE can advance related spaces as well.  The session included a strong balance of identification of current capabilities and challenges and opportunities for the future.

The second session on Missiles and Munitions was chaired by Craig Herndon from the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division (NSWC).  In this session, opportunities were discussed for applying FHE technology and manufacturing in areas including missile seekers, communications, and fuses.  The theme of discussing opportunities for improving materials and reliability continued in this session, noting that the better and more proven these become, the more applications become available.  A closing panel discussion gave the speakers the chance to share thoughts about drivers and mechanisms for inserting FHE components and subsystems into DoD platforms.

The final session on Command, Control, Communications, and High-power RF was co-chaired by Steve Gonya from Lockheed Martin and Joseph Kunze from SI2 Technologies.  Talks addressed design and development of advanced antenna systems, including additively manufactured and conformal antennas for multiple applications, capabilities and MRL maturation that the community has achieved for sensing and communications, and millimeter-wave electronics.  Finally, attendees heard perspectives that FHE may be a critical component of next generation technologies and systems, how distributed functionality that FHE enables may improve resilience, and extreme size, weight, and power improvements like advanced antennas in “no space”. The workshop concluded with members-only technical breakout sessions with discussions of the three session topics and identification of priorities to explore with an eye toward moving the ecosystem forward and delivering maximum impact.