Biologically Templated Nanofabrication
Background & Scope
In order to make a generational leap in nanofabrication capabilities, IARPA is interested in assessing potential, new technological solutions.
Through registration of materials at the nanoscale (i.e., position and orientation), precision nanofabrication is approaching near atomic control of physical properties and electromagnetism, thus enabling a broad range of technology sectors. The primary beneficiary has been the microelectronics industry where advances have contributed significantly to gains under Moore’s law. More broadly, these techniques enable applications such as photonics, sensors, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and metamaterials.
As these application spaces mature and look forward over the next 30 years, fundamental limitations of existing materials and fabrication techniques are close approaching. Non-traditional materials, such as carbon nanotubes, quantum dots, meta-chalcogenides (e.g., MoS2), and (semi)conductive polymers, have been proposed to enable desired capabilities and novel nanofabrication techniques are required to incorporate these materials into functional devices (e.g., transistors, optical amplifiers, molecular sensors) and larger architectures. Pioneering work has shown that controlled registration of such materials at the nanoscale (< 20 nm) is challenging, and existing methods suffer from limitations that can affect device performance.
Optical lithography-based patterning, coupled with material deposition and etching techniques, have been used since the late 1950’s to fabricate sub-micron and nanoscale devices. Optical lithography trades high-throughput, wide-area patterning for diffraction limited dimensional scaling, with increasing defect rates as features approach resolution limits. Emerging techniques, such as directed self-assembly, self-limiting reactions, and selective deposition, have shown utility as lithographic resolution enhancing tools to overcome this limitation. Such methods overcome resolution limits through two means: density multiplication, where the pitch of patterned material domains can produce denser features than those of a relatively large guiding pattern; and critical dimension shrinkage, where the critical dimension of the patterning material can be much less than that of the guide pattern. Synthetic polymer-based approaches, such as directed self-assembly, have addressed scalability issues but are limited to continuous 2D patterns over large areas, and lack the ability to arbitrarily register materials within a guide pattern.
Biologically templated nanofabrication techniques employ sequence-controlled biopolymers, such as DNA, RNA, and proteins, as scaffolds to template other functional materials. This is accomplished through two defining attributes: these biopolymers can be designed to take advantage of complementary physical interactions to self-assemble into practically any imaginable shape in two or three dimensions; and individual monomers within each polymer, spaced at sub-nanometer distances, can be chemically conjugated to functional materials permitting registration at near-equivalent length scales. These attributes have been employed to program the structure and dynamics of nanometer-scale devices and materials. When employed in combination with existing fabrication technologies, new fabrication paradigms emerge. The ability to control biopolymer sequence enables control of three-dimensional geometry at scales from 1 nm to ~ 200 nm and localization of conjugated materials at a spatial resolution of ~5 nm. These techniques have found broad applicability in the academic literature, including metal-nanoparticle arrangements for plasmonic applications, conductive nanowires, routing conductive polymers, carbon nanotube transistors, and single molecule biosensors. Advances in CAD/CAE tools, biomanufacturing processes, and high-resolution metrology underly these demonstrations and contribute to a design-build-test-learn process.
Despite these advances, there are several research opportunities, that when integrated, provide the potential to deliver new fundamental capabilities of self-organization and chart a path to future scaling, which is currently an impediment to adoption of biotemplated nanofabrication processes in industrial applications. These research opportunities are:
- demonstration of biotemplate registration capabilities with broad applicability to device fabrication,
- demonstration of devices and architectures that are uniquely fabricated with biotemplated processes, with performance characteristics exceeding current state-of-the-art,
- novel metrology approaches that enable high resolution and throughput defect analysis, and
- extension of modeling and simulation tools, metrology approaches, and biomanufacturing processes to facilitate high-throughput manufacturing of nanomaterial conjugated biotemplates.
IARPA is seeking responses to this RFI that suggest integrated approaches to biotemplated nanomanufacturing of functional microelectronic devices that address any of the research opportunities listed above. Responses to this RFI are asked to address the following questions targeting a specific approach or concept, sorted into 3 categories: (a) biomanufacturing processes, (b) registration capabilities, and (c) devices and architectures.
Biomanufacturing: (Please differentiate between pure biological templates and templated conjugates in your responses.)
a1. How are the biomolecules and their conjugates used in your approach currently manufactured and what metrics are used for quality control and process improvement?
a2. In anticipation of future scaling, what is the technology basis for the biomanufacturing approach you recommend (e.g., phagemid, cell-free, other)? Please include a discussion of how computational and metrology resources assist in this approach.
a3. What are the expected capabilities of your biomanufacturing approach (e.g., mass, yield, purity, and costs)? Please include in this discussion how these capabilities align and integrate with the needs of your registration approach, and the scaling potential to eventual commercial applications.
a4. How broadly can your approach be applied (i.e., is it limited to a single template and/or conjugate)?
a5. What constitutes a defect in your approach?
a6. What defect rate and/or density can your approach achieve?
a7. Can defect reduction techniques be applied to your approach and if so, what are they and what is the expected impact?
a8. What biomanufacturing infrastructure is required to achieve these capabilities? Please include a discussion on the role of process controls to enable future scaling.
a9. What computational resources are needed to achieve these capabilities? If you could design the ideal computational infrastructure/ecosystem, what would it look like?
a10. In what way(s) are these computational resources different from what is currently available?
a11. How and to what magnitude would these computational resources assist your approach (e.g., improving mass, yield and purity, decreasing defects, predicting template characteristics)?
a12. What metrology tools are needed to achieve the capabilities of your biomanufacturing approach? If you could design the ideal infrastructure/ecosystem, what would it look like?
a13. In what way(s) are these metrology resources different from what is currently available?
a14. How and to what magnitude would these metrology resources assist your approach (e.g., improving mass, yield and purity, decreasing defects, predicting template characteristics)?
Biotemplated Registration capabilities:
b1. What are the physical mechanisms underlying your registration approach(es)? Include surface chemistry requirements in your discussion.
b2. Does your approach incorporate biomaterials into the resulting device?
b3. What are the expected capabilities of your registration approach(es) (e.g., location, orientation and geometrical tolerances, pitch, critical dimensions, error in critical dimensions, density multiplication, critical dimension shrinkage)? Please include a discussion of how computational and metrology resources assist in this approach.
b4. How broadly can your approach be applied (i.e., is it limited to a single material and/or device)?
b5. What constitutes a defect in your approach?
b6. What defect rate and/or density can your approach achieve?
b7. Can defect reduction techniques be applied to your approach and if so, what is the expected impact?
b8. What manufacturing throughput can your approach achieve?
b9. What existing nanomanufacturing infrastructure (e.g., tooling, processes) is required to enable your approach? Are these resources currently available to you?
b10. What computational resources would assist in simulating your approach? If you could design the ideal computational infrastructure/ecosystem, what would it look like? Please be quantitative with expected gains from having access to this ecosystem.
b11. In what way(s) are these resources different from what is currently available?
b12. How and to what magnitude would these computational resources assist your approach (e.g., improving throughput, decreasing defects, predicting device characteristics)?
b13. What are the expected resource requirements for your approach (e.g., raw materials required, power, water)?
b14. What are the expected costs (including waste streams) of your approach and how do they compare to existing approaches?
b15. What metrology tools are needed to achieve the capabilities of your registration approach? If you could design the ideal infrastructure/ecosystem, what would it look like?
b16. In what way(s) are these metrology resources different from what is currently available?
Biotemplated devices and architectures:
c1. What devices and applications do you see as benefitting most from biologically templated nanofabrication processes?
c2. What capabilities and performance characteristics do the device(s) you recommend provide and how do they compare to existing state of the art?
c3. What are the underlying physics of the device(s) that you recommend?
c4. What defects affect device performance and at what rate or density?
c5. How does biotemplated nanomanufacturing uniquely enable the device(s) you recommend?
c6. What is the scaling potential of the device(s) that you recommend?
c7. What defect density (defects / mm2) and/or yield is required to achieve this scaling potential?
c8. What existing nanomanufacturing infrastructure (e.g., tooling, processes) is desired to fabricate and characterize the device(s) and/or architecture(s) you recommend? Does this change as device fabrication is scaled up?
In response to submissions to this RFI, IARPA may choose to organize a virtual, invitation-only workshop for the purpose of reviewing and discussing relevant current and future research. Should a workshop occur, participants will be asked to make formal presentations based on their RFI submissions. Written submissions and information discussed at a workshop may assist in the formulation of future U.S. Government research.
Preparation Instructions to Respondents
IARPA requests that respondents submit responses to the above questions for use by the Government in formulating a potential program. IARPA requests that submittals briefly and clearly describe the potential approach or concept, outline critical technical issues/obstacles, describe how the approach may address those issues/obstacles and comment on the expected performance and robustness of the proposed approach. If appropriate, respondents may also choose to provide a non-proprietary rough order of magnitude (ROM) estimate regarding what such approaches might require in terms of funding and other resources for one or more years to execute the respondent’s vision for an integrated biotemplated nanomanufacturing approach. This announcement contains all of the information required to submit a response. No additional forms, kits, or other materials are needed.
IARPA welcomes responses from all capable and qualified sources from within and outside of the U.S.
Reponses must meet the following formatting requirements:
1. A one-page cover sheet that identifies the title, organization(s), respondent's technical and administrative points of contact - including names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, and email addresses of all co-authors, and clearly indicating its association with IARPA-RFI-21-06;
2. A substantive, focused, one-half page executive summary;
3. Responses to the above questions covering at least one of the following categories, (a) biomanufacturing processes, (b) registration capabilities, and (c) devices and architectures. If responding to a category, please provide responses to all questions in that category. This section should be limited to 3 pages per category, or a maximum of 10 pages if responding to all three. Responses should be in minimum 10-point Times New Roman font, appropriate for single-sided, single-spaced 8.5 by 11-inch paper, with 0.5-inch margins;
4. A list of citations (any significant claims or reports of success must be accompanied by citations). There is no page limit for citations.
Submission Instructions to Respondents
Responses to this RFI are due no later than 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, September 24, 2021. All submissions must be electronically submitted to email@example.com as a PDF document. Inquiries to this RFI must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not send questions with proprietary content. No telephone inquiries will be accepted.
Disclaimers and Important Notes
This is an RFI issued solely for information and planning purposes and does not constitute a solicitation or authority to enter into negotiations for a contract. Respondents are advised that IARPA is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information or to provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted under this RFI. Responses to this notice are not offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract. Respondents are solely responsible for all expenses associated with responding to this RFI. IARPA will not provide reimbursement for costs incurred in responding to this RFI. It is the respondent's responsibility to ensure that the submitted material has been approved for public release by the information owner. The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this RFI or to otherwise pay for the information solicited, nor is the Government obligated to issue a solicitation based on responses received. No proprietary and no classified concepts or information shall be included in the submittal. However, should a respondent wish to submit classified concepts or information, prior coordination must be made with the IARPA Chief of Security. Email the Primary Point of Contact with a request for coordination with the IARPA Chief of Security. Input on technical aspects of the responses may be solicited by IARPA from non-Government consultants/experts who are bound by appropriate non-disclosure requirements.
Contracting Office Address:
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity
Washington, District of Columbia 20511
Primary Point of Contact:
Director, Office of Collections
Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity
Posted Date: August 24, 2021
Responses Due: September 24, 2021