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NextFlex News – February 2021 Newsletter

Dear Members and Friends,

Despite ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19, our fab remains open and productive, and several NextFlex staff are working onsite while adhering to local health and safety guidelines. We continue to add to the toolset for FHE development and prototyping and are turning our focus to reliability, where we have an active program that will start to produce data in the coming weeks. All this learning will make its way into the Materials and Process Database where members can share expertise and challenges and learn how others have solved those challenges. Work continues here at NextFlex and throughout the member community, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us, or to each other, to keep the pace of development moving!

The big news is that last week we launched PC 6.0 with over $14.3M in funding (including cost share) available across nine topics, including:

  • High Performance and Multi-layer FHE Devices
  • Improving the Reliability of FHE Devices
  • FHE Demonstrators for Monitoring Systems
  • Advanced FHE Materials Demonstrators
  • Closed-loop Process Monitoring for Printed Component Manufacturing
  • Advanced FHE Modeling and Design Tools
  • System Development of RF/Microwave FHE Technology
  • Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) for Highly Integrated and Compact Interconnects for RF Systems
  • Conformal / Flexible FHE Based Active mm-Wave Phased Array Apertures

With this being the sixth project call in our series, our total investment in FHE development is $113M to date. It’s encouraging to see the fantastic progress that has been made since NextFlex was established just five short years ago. These topics demonstrate increasing sophistication and complexity which build upon prior Project Call work, meaning, we are accomplishing what we set out to do – to advance the manufacturability of this revolutionary technology. FHE has the potential to upend many traditional electronics manufacturing processes, and from our vantage point, we get closer to achieving that vision each year.

Last week we hosted a PC 6.0 Proposer’s Day webinar today which you can view on our PC 6.0 webpage. Next, you can join us for a PC 6.0 Virtual Teaming Event where you can pitch your proposal ideas & capabilities to others looking to collaborate. You will also hear from potential project proposers looking for teaming opportunities.

Last month NextFlex announced another funding opportunity in which we received $600k in DoD funding through the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to help small businesses in California design, prototype, and manufacture FHE-enabled systems and devices. This work will directly support California’s defense innovation and manufacturing ecosystem by helping small defense manufacturers design-in the advantages that FHE provides: lightweighting, digital design and processing, low cost, fast to market, and conformal and thin form factors. We hosted a webinar last week where we discussed how to qualify and apply for funding. For more information and to watch the webinar recording, visit the CADENCE Grant web page at nextflex.us.

Finally, you can watch these NextFlex presentations at the Flex Conference this week. Even though they have already aired, you can watch them on demand now:

  • “How to Make Wearables Bearable,” presented by Dr. Alex Cook, Engineering Manager, Process Technology,
  • “FHE Design: Reducing Time to Market,” presented by Sean Nachnani, Hardware Systems Engineer, System Design & Simulation, and
  • “Using Robot-based Systems in FHE Manufacturing,” presented by Ben Plattner, Engineering Manager, Robotics and Automation.

NextFlex also has a booth where you can connect with us during show hours, and we debuted a new video that updates new learnings and milestones achieved here at the Technology Hub. The Flex Conference is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and has lots of special features in its virtual format. I remember the early years of the conference and have enjoyed watching it evolve over time. It’s a great place to connect with colleagues and subject matter experts. Register at flex.semi.org.

As always, stay well and keep the good ideas coming.

Sincerely,

Malcolm J. Thompson, Ph.D.
Executive Director

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