DIRECT TO PHASE II Production of Silicon Boron Nitride (SiBN) Fibers for Ceramic Matric Composite (CMC) Radomes in Hypersonic Applications

Navy SBIR 23.1 - Topic N231-D06
SSP - Strategic Systems Programs
Pre-release 1/11/23   Opens to accept proposals 2/08/23   Closes 3/08/23 12:00pm ET

N231-D06   TITLE: DIRECT TO PHASE II Production of Silicon Boron Nitride (SiBN) Fibers for Ceramic Matric Composite (CMC) Radomes in Hypersonic Applications


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: Develop advanced high temperature ceramic fibers exhibiting high strength, low dielectric constant, low loss tangent, high thermal stability, and high oxidation resistance for missile and projectile system applications.

DESCRIPTION: Missile components such as radomes and control surfaces are subjected to tremendous thermal stress during missile flight. Current missiles use high temperature metals for control surfaces and ceramics (such as silicon nitride or silica) for radomes. Future advanced missiles will require components with greater thermal shock resistance with properties such as those exhibited by ceramic matrix composites (CMCs). However, the only fibers available for incorporation into CMCs are fused silica ("quartz" fibers), Nextel aluminosilicate fibers from 3M, and Nicalon fibers. These fibers suffer from a limitation on service temperature, generally about 1000-1200C for the oxide fibers, and 1400C for silicon carbide fibers. In the past, there has been insufficient market potential to support commercial development of fibers for higher temperature service.

Higher temperature fibers are desired, with the capability of surviving 1500C or higher. For radome applications, fibers with low dielectric constant and low loss tangent are needed. The desired values for dielectric properties, mechanical properties, and thermal properties depend on specifics of the radar system and overall weapon design, and can vary. There is no absolute limit for either, but the concepts are discussed in the reference by Walton [Ref 5]. Examples of possible compositions for high temperature, low-dielectric constant fibers include boron nitride (BN) and silicon nitride (Si3N4). Both types of fibers were produced experimentally in the 1975-1995 timeframe but are not available commercially. Availability of high temperature fibers possessing the desired combination of properties (such as high elastic modulus, low dielectric constant and loss tangent, and high strength to elevated temperatures) will enable the development of ceramic matrix composites with vastly improved high temperature properties compared to current CMCs.

Missile components needing these material technology improvements include radomes and control surfaces, since they tend to experience the worst of thermal heat stresses during high-speed flight. As such, the material solutions will need to have electrical properties conducive to radome functionality (e.g., low dielectric constant, low loss tangent) in addition to high thermal stability and high oxidation resistance necessary for both radomes and control surfaces.

Possible applications for the desired technology include tactical missiles, long range guided projectiles, and hypersonic vehicles.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. owned and operated with no foreign influence as defined by DoD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this project as set forth by DCSA and SSP in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advanced phases of this contract.

PHASE I: For a Direct to Phase II topic, the Government expects that the small business would have accomplished the following in a Phase I-type effort and developed a concept for a workable prototype or design to address, at a minimum, the basic requirements of the stated objective above. The below actions would be required in order to satisfy the requirements of Phase I:

Developed a concept for high temperature ceramic fiber materials that meets the parameters and applications in the Description.

Established concept feasibility of the requirements through analysis, modeling, and experimentation of materials of interest.

Demonstrated initial design specifications and capabilities as outlined in the description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.


FEASIBILITY DOCUMENTATION: Offerors interested in participating in Direct to Phase II must include in their response to this topic Phase I feasibility documentation that substantiates the scientific and technical merit and Phase I feasibility described in Phase I above has been met (i.e., the small business must have performed Phase I-type research and development related to the topic NOT solely based on work performed under prior or ongoing federally funded SBIR/STTR work) and describe the potential commercialization applications. The documentation provided must validate that the proposer has completed development of technology as stated in Phase I above. Documentation should include all relevant information including, but not limited to: technical reports, test data, prototype designs/models, and performance goals/results. Work submitted within the feasibility documentation must have been substantially performed by the offeror and/or the principal investigator (PI). Read and follow all of the DON SBIR 23.1 Direct to Phase II Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) Instructions. Phase I proposals will NOT be accepted for this topic.

PHASE II: The contractor is expected to complete the following Phase II:

Develop and deliver notional full-scale prototypes that demonstrate functionality under the required service conditions including thermal and mechanical stresses (parameters will be provided upon contract award).

Use evaluation and testing to include high temperature mechanical tests, thermal shock tests, electrical tests, non-destructive testing, and microstructural examinations to show the prototype will meet Navy performance requirements (parameters will be provided upon contract award).

Develop and propose a Phase III Development Plan to transition the technology to the Navy.

It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: In Phase III the contractor is expected to finalize development, based on Phase II results, and aid in supplying the Navy with material needed to perform testing under representative flight conditions. The need for additional domestic sources of high temperature CMCs exists within other branches of the DoD, and potential uses for this technology exist in the commercial and aftermarket composite industry as well. Potential commercial uses for high-speed radome and control surface performance improvements exist in the commercial spacecraft and aircraft industries and satellite communications.


1.       Kamimura, Seiji; Seguchi, Tadao and Okamura, Kiyohito. "Development of silicon nitride fiber from Si-containing polymer by radiation curing and its application." Radiation Physics and Chemistry, Volume 54, Issue 6, June 1999, pp. 575-581.

2.       Yokoyama, Yasuharu; Nanba, Tokuro; Yasui, Itaru; Kaya, Hiroshi; Maeshima, Tsugio and Isoda, Takeshi. "X-ray Diffraction Study of the Structure of Silicon Nitride Fiber Made from Perhydropolysilazane." American Ceramic Society Journal, Volume 74, Issue 3, March 1991, pp. 654-657.

3.       Okano et al. US Patent US5780154A. Boron nitride fiber and process for production thereof.

4.       Johnson, Sylvia. "Ultra High Temperature Ceramics: Application, Issues and Prospects." American Ceramic Society, 2nd Ceramic Leadership Summit, Baltimore, MD, August 3, 2011.

5.       Walton, J.D. "Radome Engineering Handbook: Design and Principles." Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, 1970.


KEYWORDS: Hypersonics; silicon boron nitride; fiber manufacturing; thermal shock; radomes; re-entry vehicles


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the Navy Topics in the DoD 23.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

The DoD issued its Navy 23.1 SBIR Topics pre-release on January 11, 2023 which opens to receive proposals on February 8, 2023, and closes March 8, 2023 (12:00pm ET).

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