Age Effect Evaluation: Test Methodology

Navy SBIR 21.1 - Topic N211-095
SSP - Strategic Systems Programs - Mr. Michael Pyryt -
Opens: January 14, 2021 - Closes: February 18, 2021 (12:00pm EDT)

N211-095 TITLE: Age Effect Evaluation: Test Methodology

RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): Nuclear Modernization

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Materials / Processes

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 3.5 of the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop an innovative approach to measure aging effects on electronics piece parts accurately, with an ability to predict the degradation in electrical performance of deployed electronics in the fleet.

DESCRIPTION: Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) needs an innovative approach of testing hardware to expediently gain insight on effects of aging on electronic piece parts (including MicroElectrical Mechanical (MEM) sensors) on current missile systems, in lieu of typical life test approach. Current methods implemented in the program, and those currently used in the industry, are typically time-consuming. Typical present reliability techniques subject a part to elevated temperatures for a period of time to accelerate the aging mechanism. Electrical measurements are (1) functionality, (2) AC parameters, and (3) DC parameters, combined with radiation testing and destructive analysis to determine any alterations in the radiation response and doping process. These techniques are not usually perceptive to small changes in a device. Usually the measurements are taken from outside the part (higher resolution) and the equipment used do not have adequate resolution or sensitivity to discriminate electrical changes within the device itself.

The following potential methods are far more superior than previous techniques. They use advanced technology approaches; are far more sensitive than previous methods; and use real-time measurements. Some are noninvasive. This SBIR topic seeks research to apply these methods and determine the sensitivity of these techniques to changes in a semiconductor or electronic component due to aging. A method of transmitting the measurements to a monitoring system will also need to be developed.

(1) A more advanced noninvasive technique should evaluate an accurate sensor, using solid state electromechanical technologies. [Refs 1,2]

(2) Another method could be to develop a radio frequency (RF) technique to evaluate the aging effects based on the detection of electromagnetic signature changes from a device. [Refs 3, 4]

(3) Another acceptable approach should consider an electrical measurement that could detect 1 ppm changes or better with advanced semiconductor technologies. [Ref 5]

Aging of electronics that affect the radiation hardness of a device is a concern. Two effects are (1) Negative Bias Temperature Instability (NBTI) affecting p channel transistors in advanced Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) technologies less than 300 nm in feature size, and (2) gold ion diffusion impacting the dose rate threshold performance of a part. The first effect can be monitored via a p channel transistor that can be integrated on the same device. To maximize the sensitivity of detection, different sizes of p channel transistors, channel length and width dimensions would need to be fabricated and tested for NBTI. The second effect is more challenging to measure. Typically, one would irradiate a part at a prompt dose rate facility like an electron beam accelerator or a Flash X-ray machine. Another technique has been to expose a part to a laser tuned to penetrate into the substrate of the part and measure the upset threshold of the part. The upset threshold is compared with a "Gold" standard such as one that did not have gold diffusion or has been aged.

The proposed R/D effort is to determine a method of detecting the movement of gold from the die attachment substrate into the silicon bulk substrate and quantify the location of these gold atoms. The spatial resolution needs to be 5 micron or better. One possibility is to leverage on medical imaging techniques used in identifying cancer tumors or in detecting blood clots as in X-ray tomography or radiography. Gold and silicon vary vastly in mass absorption, so the detection of gold is easy with X-rays. Neutron radiography is another approach used in the detection of banned weapons of mass destruction. These are some of the techniques that would be examined to determine the spatial resolution and the sensitivity to identifying the movement of a gold atom in silicon.

PHASE I: Define and develop the concept(s) for a test approach(es) or method(s) that will accurately and expediently (80% of typical duration of current/standard tests defined in the applicable standards/specifications for each part technology) measure the aging effects on electronics piece parts as defined in the Description. Provide description(s) of the approach(es), along with corresponding preliminary evidence supporting each approach. Validate the method selected. Identify technical challenges as well as risks and opportunities for the selected method that will be addressed during Phase II. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II. Prepare a Phase II plan.

PHASE II: Develop a physical prototype of the proposed test approach or method that meets the capabilities listed in the Description. Demonstrate and validate the test approach or method. Demonstrate the ability of the prototype to meet or exceed the accuracy of current test method results. Identify, document, and demonstrate the time reduction achieved by using the prototype over standard life testing. Identify and document any opportunities for improvements for future iterations.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support in transitioning the technology for Navy use in SSP. Support the Navy with certifying and qualifying the system for SSP use. Navy SSP will provide the assets and test support as Government Furnished Equipment and Services. The accelerated age assessment evaluation test method will be adopted for use in evaluating electronic piece parts currently deployed in missiles. The technology developed can be commercialized into the automotive industry electronics where such devices could be used to determine when a car begins to have aging problems. Another area would be in the commercial airline industry to help diagnose the degradation of aging electronics. Other areas include embedding smart chips either within appliances, smart phones, security systems, and commercial transportation systems to monitor their health. With the miniaturization of microchips, we are seeing the utilization of these devices in humans as well as in electronics to monitor the vital signs and to detect changes rapidly and invasively in an affordable way.


  1. Kalgren, P.W., Ginart, A.E., Nanduri, S. et al. "Systems and Methods for Predicting Failure of Electronic Systems and Assessing Level of Degradation and Remaining Useful Life." U.S. Patent 8103463B2.
  2. "Fabrication of advanced silicon-based on MEMS devices." Analog Devices, U.S. Patent EP1452481B1.
  3. Keller, W., Freeman, S.D. and Galyardt, J. "System and method for physically detecting counterfeit electronics." U.S. Patent 20120226463A1.
  4. Pauly, G.W. and Keller, G.W. "Advanced Manufacturing Monitoring and Diagnostic Tool." U.S. Patent 8643539B2.
  5. Newman, P.F. "Leakage Oscillator Based Aging Monitor." U.S. Patent 7,592,876.

KEYWORDS: MEM; MicroElectrical Mechanical Sensors; NBTI; Negative Biased Temperature Instability; Sensors; Age Effects; Material Age Testing; Electronic Materials


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 21.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

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