Characterization of the Radiation Environment Capabilities of Exploding Foil Initiators (EFIs)

Navy SBIR 23.1 - Topic N231-074
SSP - Strategic Systems Programs
Pre-release 1/11/23   Opens to accept proposals 2/08/23   Closes 3/08/23 12:00pm ET

N231-074 TITLE: Characterization of the Radiation Environment Capabilities of Exploding Foil Initiators (EFIs)


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Investigate and demonstrate the ability of a low energy exploding foil initiator (LEEFI or EFI) to function in the Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) D5 missile system.

DESCRIPTION: With a new ballistic missile submarine under development (Columbia class SSBN), the capability delivered by the current generation of Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), the Trident II (D5) Missile, will continue to be required throughout the majority of the 21st century. As SSP maintains and modernizes the Trident II (D5) Missile through manufacturer consolidation and material obsolescence, a strong emphasis will be placed on improving manufacturability, sustainability, life-cycle costs, and safety, reliability and performance of the system.

The ability of a low energy exploding foil initiator (LEEFI or EFI) to function in the SSP D5 missile system is to be investigated and demonstrated. Specifically, since the missile is subject to various strategic radiation environment environments; any electrical system must be robust enough to reliably operate during exposure to the elevated radiation environment. Many EFI designs exist in industry and their viability must be understood prior to use in systems which experience radiation environments. To provide potential users with a wider selection for their application and to promote new designs, characterization of the performance of bridge foils of varying materials and sizes will be conducted when subjected to various radiation environments, comprised of neutrons, gammas, X-rays, electrons, and ElectroMagnetic Pulse (EMP).

The baseline application is for EFIs, which conform to MIL-STD-1316 [Ref 1] and/or MIL-STD-1901 [Ref 2], design and safety requirements for use in systems. Of particular interest is the effects of radiation on the narrowed bridge area (metal, e.g., aluminum, copper, gold, silver) and flyer (dielectric, e.g., polyimide, polyethylene terephthalate (PET)) aspects of the bridge foil such that the EFI would not fire or would prematurely fire. The EFIs will need to withstand radiation environments analogous to natural space and man-made hostile conditions for a prompt high dose rate range of 1E11 to 1E13 rad(Si)/s, a Total Ionizing Dose range of 1E5 to 5E5 rad(Si), Neutron Displacement Damage maximum of 5E12 to 1E14 n/cm2, and X ray fluence range of 0.1 to 10 cal/cm2.

The Phase I deliverables would include an analysis-based "handbook" and recommended processes to evaluate typical common EFI bridge foil materials (cf. preceding paragraph) and how they react in various radiation environments for use when determining EFI viability in a system and/or narrow down design parameters for a custom EFI in a strategic system.

PHASE I: Develop a concept for characterizing the EFI bridge foil parameters and environments. Determine EFI parameter trade space from industry availability and literature. Determine pass/fail criteria. Conduct a RAD transport simulation feasibility assessment for the proposed approaches and documentation design guideline advancements in contrast to existing devices/Foils. Address, at a minimum, the capabilities listed in the Description. Document findings in an analysis-based handbook. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

PHASE II: Formulate validation plan, including analysis, test approaches, and locations. Develop test plans to monitor the radiation response. Propose a conceptual design or improvements that can be performed on commercially available EFIs that will meet or exceed the environments described above. Develop a Phase III technology hostile environment validation and verification plan. Address, at a minimum, the capabilities listed in the description.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Validation of Phase II test (not necessarily hardware) in a hostile environment. Show MIL-STD-2169 compliance data from testing to exercise the designs in relevant environments and collect performance data, which may be used to characterize the capabilities of the design. This design concept will be leveraged for the Strategic Weapon System Trident II D5 and D5 Life Extension Programs. This technology has the potential to be used commercially in the aerospace and energetic industries that require low energy exploding foil initiators such as safer non-military application of deep well Wireline Perforating.


1.       NPFC, MIL-STD-1316 "Fuze Design, Safety Criteria For", 18 August 2017. Pages:32

2.       NPFC ,MIL-STD-1901 "Munition Rocket and Missile Motor Ignition System Design, Safety Criteria For" 6 June 2002. , Pages:25,

3.       Lewis Cohn, et al. 1995. DNA-H-95-61, "Transient Radiation Effects on Electronics (TREE) Handbook," December 1995.

4.       "MIL-STD-464 DoD Interface Standard: Electromagnetic Environmental Effects, Requirements for systems."

5.       "MIL-STD-461 Military Standard: Electromagnetic Interference Characteristics Requirements for Equipment."

6.       "MIL-STD-2169 DoD Interface Standard: High-Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) Environment." U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, 10 November 2011.

7.       Zulueta, P.J. "Electronics Packaging Considerations for Space Applications." 6th Electronics Packaging Technology Conference, 8-10 Dec. 2004, Singapore.

8.       Fenske, M.T., Barth, J.L., Didion, J.R. and Mule, P. "The development of lightweight electronics enclosures for space applications." SAMPE Conference, May 1999, Long Beach, CA.

9.       Li, Z., Chen, S., Nambiar, S., Sun, Y., Zhang, M., Zheng, W., and Yeow, John T.W. "PMMA-MWCNT nanocomposite for proton radiation shielding applications." Nanotechnology 27, 2016, 234001.



KEYWORDS: Low energy exploding foil initiator; LEEFI; high voltage; ordnance; initiation; strategic radiation; battlespace environments; survivability; characterization study; Strategic Missiles; Materials Development; Electronics Enclosures; Shielding; Attenuation

Communication with SSP TPOCs will be coordinated through the SSP SBIR Program Manager.


Email: [email protected]


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