Back in 2017, SkyWater was a startup making a play at sparking a resurgence of chip manufacturing in the U.S. The Bloomington-based company announced that the U.S. Department of Defense will invest up to $170 million in a multi-phase project to enhance the firm’s microelectronics capabilities.
SkyWater, which serves customers in the aerospace, defense, automotive, industrial, IoT, and medical industries (among others) will be expanding its facility to create additional clean room area and supporting infrastructure. The initial phase is funded at $80 million and SkyWater will leverage this investment to develop a new 90 nm radiation hardening electronics production.
This expanded radiation hardening (rad-hard) capability will enhance the reliability of critical microelectronic devices in harsh conditions, such as space and military field deployments. Fortifying SkyWater’s U.S. production operation in this arena will extend new offerings for the company’s aerospace and defense customers, in addition to addressing non-defense related opportunities for hardened electronics such as commercial space operations, medical imaging and other applications in extreme environments.
The funding will also enable a new Copper interconnect option for SkyWater. Copper interconnects — the tiny copper wires that connect a chip to itself internally — were made famous by IBM and Motorola in 1997. The new Copper interconnect option at SkyWater will improve system performance and efficiency, and is critical to support their customers’ technology roadmaps.
“As a solely US owned and operated Technology Foundry, we are committed to supporting aerospace and defense customers. This investment marks a deepening of our relationship with this community, reinforces the credibility of our business model and expands our technology platforms allowing us to also increase the scope of our serviceable commercial markets,” said Thomas Sonderman, SkyWater President.