Air Force researchers to speed optical interconnect development for chips, boards, and systems

Posted by John Keller

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio, 11 March 2010. U.S. Air Force researchers are asking industry to improve photonics interconnect manufacturing technology to hasten the future use of optical interconnects for chip-to-chip, board-to-board, and system-to-system high-speed optical computing.

The Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, released a broad agency announcement (BAA-10-10-PKM) Wednesday for the $2.4 million Photonics Manufacturing Program to find ways to cut costs, speed development, and increase availability of photonics interconnect technology for military applications.

The goal is to hasten the maturity of optical interconnect technology so Air Force leaders can introduce it quickly in their inventory of weapons. Funding for the three-year program should be $400,000 in 2010, $1 million in 2011, and $1 million in 2012.

In charge of this research initiative are scientists in the Manufacturing Technology Division of the Air Force Research Lab's Materials and Manufacturing Directorate at Wright-Patterson. Companies interested must respond no later than 26 April 2010.

The Photonics Manufacturing Program seeks to identify and meet the manufacturing challenges of producing militarized, high bandwidth photonics interconnect technology to enhance the affordability and capability of militarized photonics interconnect technology for current and future Air Force weapon systems.

Air Force ground, air, and space systems are processing greater and greater amounts of data and information, which requires increased interconnect communications bandwidths at intra-module (chip-to-chip), inter-module (board-to-board), and system (system-to-system) levels, Air Force researchers say.

Photonics interconnect technology can meet these needs, yet manufacturing process improvements are necessary to make the technology more producible and affordable for Air Force applications.

Proposals should show how photonics interconnection technology solutions migrate from chip levels to system levels for and future bandwidth requirements. Proposed solutions must include anticipated technology insertions into Air Force weapon systems for the next five years.

Researchers want proposals for true insertion dates -- no just transition opportunities -- as well as Air Force weapon system office endorsements.

Phase-zero of the Photonics Manufacturing Program will be a six-to-eight-month study to identify current and future Air Force photonics interconnect requirements; identify Air Force users and get their endorsements; and identify manufacturing solutions.

Phase-one will be a 15-17 month effort to address manufacturability issues; conduct at least three manufacturing readiness assessments (MRAs); set up a manufacturing strategy; and conduct a program review. Air Force researchers expect to make contract awards by 1 July 2010.

Send proposals no later than 26 April 2010 to Scott Savory by e-mail at, or by post at Det 1 AFRL/PKMT, Bldg 167, 2310 8th St., Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433-7801. His phone number is 937-656-9001.

For technical questions and concerns contact Greg Cazzell by phone at 937-904-4599, by e-mail at, or by post at AFRL/RXMT, Bldg 653, Rm 201, 2977 Hobson Way, WPAFB OH 45433-7739.

More information is online at


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