Raytheon University Partnerships Help Develop Advanced Manufacturing Technologies
Advanced manufacturing by definition depends on the use of technology to improve processes, products and systems. Next-generation manufacturing technologies and concepts are being developed at universities throughout the world. Through multiple partnering efforts at leading universities, Raytheon is developing innovative manufacturing technologies that will be key enablers for current and future Raytheon systems.
Raytheon has adopted a strategic approach to university partnerships that includes membership in university consortia and sponsorship of student capstone projects, in addition to Raytheon-funded directed research. Some of our key efforts in advanced manufacturing are being matured through partnerships with the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), the University of Massachusetts at Lowell (UML), and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).
NASCENT Center for Nanomanufacturing at UT Austin
The Nanomanufacturing Systems for Mobile Computing and Mobile Energy Technologies (NASCENT) Center was established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) at UT Austin in 2012. Raytheon is an industry member of the center, which also includes research groups from the University of New Mexico and the University of California, Berkeley.
The NASCENT Center has three major research thrusts:
- Patterning: top-down fabrication of nanoscale structures with exquisite control of feature size and shape (see Figure 1).
- Functional materials: processable materials for devices and machines, including directed self-assembly of block co-polymers and nanoparticles.
- Metrology and yield enhancement: sub-wavelength optical nanometrology for real-time nanomanufacturing feedback and fault diagnostics, validated uncertainty quantification (UQ) models for scale-up and process control.
NASCENT develops systems for nanomanufacturing and metrology to support the transition of nanotechnologies from research and development (R&D) to industry environments. Nanoimprint lithography is among the key technologies being matured within the center. This technology is ideal for generating features in the approximately 10–100 nanometer (nm) regime and may also be of interest for metamaterial microlens fabrication, three-dimensional (3D) integration, and focal plane array technologies. NASCENT is incorporating the use of roll-to-roll printing and transfer, along with two-dimensional (2D) and 3D nano-fabrication methods to ensure technologies are well suited for production-type activities.
Raytheon is working with Professor S. V. Sreenivasan, NASCENT codirector, to use Jet-Flash Imprint Lithography (J-FIL) to demonstrate features on gallium nitride (GaN) that are representative of radio frequency (RF) transistor devices. Specifically, the team is interested in pursuing multi-tiered structures, and single-step printing of 300 millimeter (mm) GaN wafers.
Raytheon-UML Research Institute
Raytheon has recently established a joint research facility with UML (see Figure 2). The Raytheon-UML Research Institute (RURI) is focused on advancing radar and communications technologies with particular emphasis on flexible and conformal electronics, 3D printing and nanotechnology.
RURI’s state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms serve as a launchpad for collaboration and learning among UML faculty and students and Raytheon employees. It benefits both organizations in the pursuit of federal research funding and provides UML students with opportunities for research projects and employment at Raytheon.
“The creation of the RURI presents a tangible opportunity to advance the research and the learning of technologies under development for students and employees alike and will inspire future engineers and drive innovation,” said Paul Ferraro, vice president of Advanced Technology Programs at Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems.
“We look forward to bringing the expertise of our top-notch faculty together with researchers from Raytheon. This new partnership is just one example of how UMass Lowell is leading the way in collaborating with industry to power innovation and the economy in Massachusetts and beyond,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “This institute will also provide our students with the kind of real-world experience that is one of the hallmarks of a UML education.”
“As a co-directed, co-located research environment, the RURI signifies a unique opportunity for Raytheon’s university partnerships,” said Mark E. Russell, Raytheon vice president of Engineering, Technology and Mission Assurance. “The RURI will serve as an extension of our current research capabilities and represents a resource across the Raytheon enterprise for the study of advanced materials and flexible circuit technologies, such as printable electronics and nanotechnology.”
The institute leverages UML’s strengths in printed electronics and nanotechnology that align with Raytheon’s strategic technology needs including high-frequency printed conformal antennas, carbon-based transistors and photonic devices. Initial research is focused on future technologies for radar and communication systems and could expand into other areas as needed. Efforts are currently underway to characterize RF performance and optimize printing processes for conductive inks on flexible substrates (see Figure 3). Additionally, design and fabrication of tunable devices is being pursued to support RF metamaterial applications. This effort involves development of dielectric materials, numerical simulations, RF characterizations and optimization of printing techniques.
The RURI is located in the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, an 84,000-square-foot research facility on the UML campus that is home to cuttingedge research in a variety of science and engineering disciplines. The center — one of nine new buildings opened by the university since 2009 — was constructed to provide not only UML faculty and students with the most advanced research facility of its kind north of Boston, but to also support collaboration with businesses from startups to world leaders like Raytheon.
The building’s fourth floor is specially equipped to house the institute, which is codirected by Dr. Christopher McCarroll of Raytheon and UML Professor Craig Armiento, Ph.D., a faculty member in electrical and computer engineering in the university’s Francis College of Engineering.
Integrative Materials Design Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Raytheon has recently joined the Integrative Materials Design Center (iMdc) Consortium, located at WPI. The center’s mission is to advance reliable and sustainable design and manufacturing for high-performance materials, processes and components. This industrygovernment-university alliance with more than 30 members takes an “application-driven design” approach, focusing on fundamental, general interest research that addresses welldefined industrial needs and new technologies. The interdisciplinary iMdc integrates fundamental knowledge from materials science, mechanical engineering, manufacturing, and other disciplines to develop and optimize materials-process-performance correlations and compatibilities using a unique combination of experimental work, analytical methods, and multiscale computational models and design tools.
The iMdc research portfolio includes a suite of advanced investigations on additive manufacturing of structural metallic materials fabricated by both laser and electron beam techniques; studies on the relationships between processing and fatigue crack growth behavior and mechanisms in coldspray materials; and development of light metals for dynamic properties and fatigue and high temperature performance. The iMdc has also been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate novel manufacturing of metal matrix nano-ceramic composites via liquid metal processing. Multiple iMdc projects focus on friction stir welding, including an effort co-chaired by Raytheon to develop processes for friction stir welding of dissimilar materials and creation of nano-composites using this process. Raytheon’s specific efforts within the iMdc are focused on leveraging friction stir welding for thermal management applications, and complementing and expanding its activities in the area of additive manufacturing. Adding to its portfolio and the materials characterization and evaluation capabilities, iMdc recently acquired a most advanced digital imaging correlation system (through an NSF-Major Research Instrumentation grant) and complementary non-destructive damage detection and monitoring instrumentation (through a Defense University Research Instrumentation Program-Army Research Office grant). The iMdc research programs support the center’s objective to increase performance and reliability of high-integrity materials and structures, benefiting manufacturers, industry suppliers and materials producers.
Other Nanotechnology-based Advanced Manufacturing at Raytheon
NASCENT, RURI and iMdc are just some of the latest examples of Raytheon’s partnerships with industry and academia to develop nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing processes. Raytheon has long maintained a diverse portfolio of partnerships to advance materials technologies and develop manufacturing capabilities that support transition to industry. In 2007, Raytheon was awarded a multiyear Navy contract to develop an improved composite material for infrared windows and missile domes. This objective was to significantly enhance materials and manufacturing processes compared to those currently in use for windows and aerodynamically shaped domes in the 3–5 micron mid-wave infrared band. The program was successful in developing improved infrared transparent missile domes capable of higher speed operation and greater particle impact resistance than sapphire, the incumbent material (see Figure 4). Raytheon partnered with Rutgers University, the University of Connecticut, the University of California-Davis, and three small businesses on the effort.
The success of this program was noted by the Navy technical team, headed by Daniel C. Harris, senior scientist in the Chemistry and Materials Division at the Naval Air Warfare Center at China Lake, Calif., as being one of the first real applications of nanotechnology with a significant impact. He observed, “Durable sensor windows made from the NCOC [nanocomposite optical ceramics] material should be an enabling technology for improved endoatmospheric missile defense, for ship self defense, and for time-critical strike missions.”
Building off successes like our nanocomposite missile domes, Raytheon continues to broaden the technical network outside of Raytheon. Partnering with small businesses and universities is a key strategy towards keeping technology innovation moving forward, and involvement in the early stages helps guide the technology toward end solutions that are impactful for Raytheon systems.
Mary Herndon and Erik Nordhausen
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