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This announcement seeks revolutionary research ideas for topics not addressed by ongoing MTO programs or other published BAA solicitations. To avoid proposals that duplicate existing activities or are responsive to other published MTO solicitations, potential bidders are highly encouraged to review current MTO programs and solicitations, respectively listed at and Contacting MTO program managers to discuss their research interests is also encouraged. A current list of program managers is available at 

As MTO evolves to address future microsystems-related challenges, the office has identified three target thrust areas: (1) Electronics: Managing Moore’s Inflection, (2) Spectrum: Enhancing Our Advantage with Agility and Autonomy, and (3) Sensors: Decentralized Sensors for the DoD.

Each of these overlapping spaces present significant opportunities for exploring new and creative technologies. In addition, MTO is highly interested in funding ideas for transitioning emerging and existing technologies within these areas to DoD uses, including integration into current defense systems.

Electronics: Managing Moore’s Inflection

The DoD relies on advanced microelectronics for a range of capabilities including command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR). In 2017, MTO launched the Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI) to jumpstart innovation within the microelectronics community. ERI responds to long foreseen obstacles to Moore’s Law as well as to skyrocketing design costs and geopolitical complications. The Initiative specifically seeks to benefit both the DoD and the U.S. commercial sector by enabling circuit specialization, through innovative approaches in circuit Materials and Integration, Architectures, and Design. In addition, MTO’s electronics portfolio aims to ensure that DoD microelectronics perform as designed, with no more and no less functionality than intended. Research areas include accelerating circuit development timelines, reducing costs, alternatives to traditional architectures, heterogeneous integration of differing materials, circuits with “built-in trust” protections, and other technologies that promise surprising performance for military systems.

Spectrum: Enhancing Our Advantage with Agility and Autonomy

The effectiveness of land, sea, air, space, and cyber-based combat operations depends on controlling and exploiting the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum, which is emerging as a sixth domain of modern warfare. DoD depends on the spectrum to collect information about the physical world, to process it digitally, and to disseminate it to the warfighter. However, as info-centric military and commercial systems demand greater spectrum access, this limited resource will become increasingly contested and congested. With a focus on spectrum agility and autonomy, MTO investments will move away from the DoD tradition of intricate, expensive spectrum system designs that are slow to field and easy to attack, and from the manual exercise of allocating portions of the spectrum to specific uses. Instead, the DoD will need tactical sensors with novel sensing modalities, higher performance, lower cost, and "selective attention," meaning that they conserve power by only collecting and transmitting relevant signals. Research areas include but are not limited to radiofrequency (RF), optical, and other low-footprint sensor hardware that provides assured connectivity at high-bandwidths, emphasizes maximal flexibility, and facilitates fast development cycles for fielding complex EM systems.

Sensors: Decentralized Sensors for the DoD

Extensive, heterogeneous sensor arrays and networked operations will underpin U.S. success in future conflicts. MTO is developing technologies that will enable future warfighters to utilize smaller, more powerful sensors and extract actionable intelligence from these numerous sensor feeds. Research areas include but are not limited to Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) sense location in GPS-denied environments; electro-optical/infrared sensing to complement or replace RF functionality; photonic systems that exploit optical frequencies for enhanced performance; atomic physics; and low-power hardware architectures to provide learning and complex computation in embedded military applications.

Topic areas of interest:
  • Research areas of current interest to MTO include, but are not limited to, the following topics:
  • Advanced imaging architectures and systems
  • Atomic physics
  • Chip scale sensors
  • Computational architectures and algorithms for next generation artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) technologies
  • Electronics for harsh environments
  • Emerging MEMS technologies
  • Enabling component technology for cold-atom microsystems
  • Energy-efficient computing
  • Hardware assurance, reliability & validation
  • Hardware for advanced signal processing
  • Heterogeneous integration
  • Low power electronics
  • Low volume microsystems manufacturing
  • Materials for advanced microelectronics
  • Microelectromechanical device technology
  • Microsystem design & CAD
  • Microsystems for directed energy
  • Microsystems for position, navigation & timing
  • Microsystems for RF/optical transceivers
  • Non-silicon electronics
  • Novel photonic devices
  • Photonic & electronic interconnects
  • Processing techniques for imaging and spectral recognition 
  • Quantum devices
  • Signal processing to reduce hardware requirements
  • Thermal management
  • Other microsystems technology topic areas
May 26, 2020
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