Photonics in the Package for Extreme Scalability (PIPES)

Funding Agency:
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

The Microsystems Technology Office at DARPA seeks innovative research proposals to develop optical technologies for data movement in digital microelectronics to allow disruptive system scaling through parallelism. Proposed research should investigate approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems. Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice.

The objective of PIPES is to enable disruptive system scalability by developing optical signaling technologies for digital microelectronics. The program will employ intimate integration of photonics with advanced ICs to yield system connectivity with an unprecedented combination of high aggregate bandwidth, power efficiency, channel density, and link reach.

Through the PIPES program, DARPA seeks to: 1) integrate photonic interconnect capabilities within state-of-the-art MCMs for system prototyping; 2) advance embedded optical signaling performance through the development of emerging component technologies, photonic-electronic integration techniques, and scalable architectures and multiplexing concepts; 3) develop and mature low-loss optical packaging and reconfigurable switching technologies; and, 4) establish a domestic ecosystem that facilitates enduring Department of Defense (DoD) access to differentiated capabilities for in-package photonic signaling.


  • Abstract Due Date: November 27, 2018  (was Nov. 20)
  • Proposal Due Date: January 17, 2019

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Technical Area 1 (TA1) – Photonically-Enabled MCMs 

  • Technical Area 1, Track B (TA1B) – Defense Applications and Demonstration

Technical Area 2 (TA2) – Photonics for Massive Parallelism

Technical Area 3 (TA3) – Interconnect Fabrics

Eligibility Requirements

All responsible sources capable of satisfying the Government's needs may submit a proposal that shall be considered by DARPA. 

Amount Description

 Approximately $65M of funding is anticipated for awards made against this BAA, with a distribution of:

o $35M for Technical Area 1 (TA1) including Technical Area 1B (TA1B)

o $20M for Technical Area 2 (TA2)

o $10M for Technical Area 3 (TA3)

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences

External Deadline

January 17, 2019