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Microsystems Science, Technology & Components (MSTC)

Sandia National Laboratories’ MSTC pioneering work in microsystems began in the 1960s with the invention of the laminar flow cleanroom. Virtually every microdevice fabrication facility in the world uses this cleanroom technology. In the 1970’s, Sandia established its leadership in radiation-hardened integrated circuits. The ability of the Galileo spacecraft to survive Jupiter’s radiation belts was made possible by components designed and built by Sandia. In the 1980’s Sandia began revolutionary work in Strained Layer Superlattices, providing the ability to make customized semiconductor materials. Building on this work, Sandia established a capability in optoelectronics that led to advances in Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSELs) and other devices. Sandia’s VCSELs are now revolutionizing the worldwide optical communications network. In the 1990’s, Sandia developed SUMMiT™, a groundbreaking capability in sacrificial surface micromachining as well as a broad range of capabilities to make novel microsensors. The 2000’s has seen the maturation of a variety of chemical and biological detections systems, as well as significant advances in 3-D microsystems integration.

Today Sandia’s Microsystems Center is uniquely positioned to develop, mature, and deliver custom microsystems through the ability to seamlessly integrate advanced simulation with agile manufacturing to provide a faster, better, cheaper process for providing qualified microsystems to support the enduring nuclear weapons stockpile and other critical nation security needs of the nation.

Who We Are

Sandia National Laboratory develops and delivers microsystems and their constituent components including electronic devices, MEMS, optoelectronic and photonic integrated circuits and discrete devices, sensors, and sensored systems. Sandia's silicon fab is optimized for radiation-hardened, analog, and mixed-signal microelectronics, custom digital ASICs, and discrete devices.  Analog circuits, unlike digital circuits do not scale in geometry when it comes to optimum performance. A 0.35-micrometer silicon integrated-circuit technology offers better analog performance because of better device matching, high supply voltages, and extended signal dynamic range. Properly designed and fabricated, larger devices are more likely to continue to perform in extended operating environments including temperature, shock, and radiation. Sandia's fab has strong defense and space customer pull as one of the few remaining on-shore rad-hard microelectronic foundries and the only one producing chips hardened to survive the nuclear battlefield.  Sandia also operates a III-V compound-semiconductor device and circuit fab. Sandia focuses on performance optimization through design and integration.  The focus of Sandia's captive fabs is on rad-hard components, as well as a range of other critical components for a variety of national security applications that commercial industry chooses not to produce or that cannot be obtained from trusted on-shore foundries. Sandia provides the best performance at the lowest cost at an appropriate level of reliability.

In defense industries, and increasingly in commercial systems, the issue of trusted components is increasingly coming to the forefront. Theft of intellectual property, counterfeit parts, and concern for Trojan Horses increasingly require trusted suppliers. What the nation's defense contractors require, and what the commercial sector increasingly requires, is a coordinated plan to supply all the parts that are needed.

Sandia has received Category 1A Trusted Accreditation through the Department of Defense (DoD) Defense MicroElectronics Activity (DMEA) to provide "Trusted Design" services for both unclassified and classified ICs.  Sandia's facility has developed and delivered digital and mixed-signal microelectronic products for national security programs for DOE nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation, and other government agencies for over two decades. As an accredited Department of Defense Trusted Design Center, Sandia provides Trusted ASIC Design Services for both radiation-hardened and non-radiation-hardened foundries (350nm, 180nm, 130nm, 90nm), including in-house, IBM, National Semiconductor and other Trusted Foundries. 

For additional information or questions, please email us at Trusted Product Realization.


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