MCNC Research & Development Institute (MCNC-RDI) has contracted with Lucent Technologies to provide 3D interconnect technology. This is part of a joint research and development project for the U.S. Department of Defense's Coherent Communications, Imaging and Targeting (CCIT) program.

MCNC-RDI will collaborate with Lucent's Bell Labs R&D division and the New Jersey Nanotechnology Consortium (NJNC), run by Bell Labs.

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), the central research and development organization for the Defense Department, established the CCIT program to develop more efficient systems for communications, imaging and targeting applications.

Current communications systems use adaptive optics, which are too heavy to use in advanced mobile platforms. Therefore, the three organizations will combine their talents to develop lightweight, high-resolution, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) using spatial light modulators. This MEMS-based technology will be the backbone for a scalable prototype system that can digitally manipulate optical beams of light via micro-mirror arrays.

The technology is expected to increase communication speeds in the multi-GB/s range and to provide aberration-free, 3D imaging.

MCNC-RDI was chosen as a subcontractor by Bell Labs to provide 3D interconnect technology for the project. Whereas MCNC-RDI’s 3D interconnect technology is expected to increase integrated circuit performance while reducing weight and volume.

Devices featuring 3D interconnect technology exhibit improved processing speed, lower power consumption, reduced cost and a smaller footprint. MCNC-RDI recently demonstrated vertical interconnects with diameters as small as four microns and aspect ratios up to 10:1.

Though the MEMS technology is currently being developed primarily for CCIT and other military applications, it also has the potential for many commercial applications, such as healthcare and astronomy.