Projects   /   Completed

S2173 — Manufacturing of Light Activated Semiconductor Switches Phase 3

PERIOD OF PERFORMANCE: January 2007 to September 2009


Advanced weapons and defense systems for meeting mission requirements for lethality and survivability require the use of high power, very fast switching (high dI/dt) switches that are cost-effective to manufacture. Gas and vacuum switches have the potential to meet the performance requirements, but their reliability over repeated operation and cost of ownership preclude their use. The logical alternative to meet these demanding requirements is the use of solid state switches, since their reliability and lifetime are much greater than gas or vacuum switches. However, existing solid state switches do not simultaneously meet the high current and high dI/dt requirements. The Light Activated Semiconductor Switches (LASS) program has developed a manufacturing supplier of solid state switches that meet DOD requirements for a high current, high dI/dt switch. The objective of this project was to establish a manufacturing line to provide LASS switches for military and commercial applications. The Technical Readiness Levels (TRLs) of the LASS and its components were assessed at regular intervals during the program.

An additional objective of this project was to demonstrate a LASS at TRL 5. This project addressed the following areas: (1) development of lower cost silicon doping processes to improve the lifetime and uniformity of high power silicon devices; (2) manufacturing process development for high voltage devices; (3) packaging of high power, light activated thyristors; (4) development of a fiber optic coupled laser light source; (5) integration and testing of the laser light source; and (6) integration and testing of the LASS thyristor package and integrated laser light source.


The demonstrated benefits were that a manual manufacturing operation was converted into an automated manufacturing facility that is capable of producing a significantly higher volume of LASS switches with a much improved process yield. Costs were significantly lower and a savings of $20K per switch is expected with an initial production of 300 switches planned. The total cost reduction is $6M.


Phase 3 of this project optimized the processing, packaging, and manufacturing automation improving overall LASS yield and reducing the final cost. The ManTech project developed a manufacturing line at OptiSwitch Technology Corporation (OTC) that is capable of providing a sufficient number of LASS devices for DOD needs. Environmental testing has been completed on all major components of the Light Activated Semiconductor Switch to determine how well they perform in a relevant environment. The transition event for this project, the demonstration that the LASS meets the TRL 5 requirements, has been completed. Implementation will be accomplished by qualifying the Light Activated Semiconductor Switch in the test bed of a DOD mission critical application.

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