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Biden Administration issues detailed strategy to deploy US CHIPS Act funding

Date Announced: 12 Sep 2022

US flag chip

Photonics Focus / SPIE -- The Biden Administration released on 6 September, a detailed strategy for spending $50 billion in funding from the CHIPS Act. The act, signed last month by President Biden with the broad goals of rebuilding US leadership in the semiconductor industry as well as the nation’s chip-making capacity should have broad implications for the optics and photonics industries.

The strategy, dubbed the CHIPs for America program, will be housed within the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), part of the US Department of Commerce. Its four primary goals are to establish and expand domestic production of leading-edge semiconductors; build a stable supply of mature node semiconductors; making R&D investments aimed at next generation semiconductor technology; and job creation with an emphasis on diversity as well as opportunities for veterans and people in rural areas.

“Rebuilding America’s leadership in the semiconductor industry is a down payment on our future as a global leader,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in announcing the CHIPS for America program.

Raimondo said the program will support three initiatives:

  • large scale investments in leading edge manufacturing, with some $28 billion to establish domestic production of advanced logic and memory chips. The money may be available as grants, cooperative agreements, or to subsidize loans or loan guarantees.
  • New manufacturing capacity for mature and current-generation chips, new and specialty technology, and incentives for semiconductor industry suppliers. The Commerce Department expects dozens of awards totaling about $10 billion for this program. The intent is to increase domestic production of semiconductors, including chips used in defense and in critical industries including automotive, information/communication technology, and medical devices.
  • Initiatives to strengthen US leadership in semiconductor R&D. The program allocates $11 billion for a National Semiconductor Technology Center, a National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program, up to three new Manufacturing USA institutes, and NIST metrology R&D programs.

The strategy also outlines evaluation criteria for funding applications. These include encouraging large-scale projects that attract private capital, encourage collaboration among stakeholders, secure state or local incentives that would promote broad economic gains; establish a secure and resilient semiconductor supply chain; and that will expand the workforce pipeline to match domestic workforce needs.

On 21 September SPIE will host the Photonics Industry Summit in Washington, DC, to provide an in-person opportunity for CHIPS America program funding applicants and other stakeholders to hear from and ask questions of leaders in government. The summit will also include an industry panel and networking opportunities for attendees. Registration is now open.

Author: William G. Schulz, Editor-in-Chief, Photonics Focus, SPIE.


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