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NIST previews open competition for semiconductor research and development

The CHIPS Research and Development Office announced an open competition that will result in a Manufacturing USA Institute focused on semiconductor manufacturing.
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The National Institute of Standards and Technology released a notice of intent Thursday for an open competition on digital twins for semiconductor manufacturing, packaging and assembly. 

According to the Federal Register posting, the CHIPS Research and Development Office seeks to establish “one (1) Manufacturing USA Institute focused on” digital twins —  a digital representation of a physical object or process that can assist in simulating potential situations and their outcomes — for semiconductor operations. Additionally, the competition includes “the validation of such digital twins in a physical prototyping facility.”

“After receiving extensive public input, CHIPS R&D determined that a single institute with both regionally-focused programs and meaningful cross-region participation will best meet the CHIPS R&D program goals of strengthening U.S. technology leadership, accelerating ideas to market and realizing a robust semiconductor workforce,” the notice states. “Despite substantial existing investment in proprietary digital twin technology, the United States lacks a comprehensive environment for collaborative development and validation of semiconductor industry digital twins.”

The minimum NIST commitment for this is listed at $200 million across five years. CHIPS R&D expects to announce the competition officially in the second quarter of 2024, according to the notice, and to post the official notice of funding opportunity on Grants.gov.

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Manufacturing USA Institute, which NIST is looking to establish, are cross-sector partnerships that attempt to bring together various forms and sizes of industry organizations and government entities. The institutes aim to foster a community that lends itself to collaboration, support the delivery of tangible benefits to all manufacturers, enhance research institutions and “ensure a national reach in workforce development.”

The notice also states that a planned CHIPS Manufacturing USA Institute Industry Day will happen this month, providing an opportunity for the government to  “solicit feedback on the NIST plans and timelines for the Institute.”

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