CHIPS and Science Act: A new age of scientific progress

With a bipartisan majority, the US is back in the semiconductor game. Intel, TSMC, and others will be getting investments to build domestic fabs. This will be critical for creating supply chain resiliency regardless of future geopolitics.

Fabs are cool, but the bill itself includes funding for much more than just semiconductors. It’s a larger science bill aimed at improving our scientific funding and allow us to become more competitive. While the bill is not quite the “Endless Frontier” that was teased, it definitely makes the frontier larger.

The larger summary of the bill contains many more details. While there are plenty of nuanced details, I haven’t seen a great breakdown of the full thing yet.

So this article is going to review this thirty-nine page doc and highlight my favorite parts.

Note that much of the funding in this bill, many billions in total, are funding between 2023 to the end of fiscal year 2027.

Energy Sciences

  • 50M/year to research artificial photosynthesis (Sec. 10102, b)
  • 50M/year for two carbon storage research centers (Sec. 10102, g) among other carbon research provisions
  • 100M/year to build out “quantum network infrastructure”, essentially a quantum Internet, plus another 30M+/year for QUEST (Quantum User Expansion for Science and Technology program) (Sec. 10104, b)
  • 50M/year for R&D for nuclear fusion, including a growing amount of funding over the years to roadmap a production-ready plant (Sec. 10105, a)
  • Ensure we participate in the LHC, Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility, and other large-scale science experiements (Sec. 10106, b)
  • 40M/year to boost STEM education, particularly in elementary and secondary schools (Sec. 10111, a)
  • 750M in total to setup high intensity laser research (Sec. 10112, Sec. 313)
  • Research in helium recycling and reuse (Sec. 10112, Sec. 314)
  • 50M/year to setup a “biological threat preparedness research initiative” (Sec. 10112, Sec. 315)

NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology)

  • Roughly 10B in funding over the next five years (Sec. 10211)
  • National supply chain database to minimize future disruptions (Sec. 10253)

National Science Foundation

  • More efforts to boost STEM education at every level of education (Sec. 10311–10313)
  • Canonize STE“A”M by including art and design in STEM education (Sec. 10319)
  • Include Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Virgin Islands, and Guam in Presidential STEM teaching awards (Sec. 10321)
  • Support research for precision agriculture (Sec. 10361), using microgravity (Sec. 10364)
  • Finding new uses for the collapsed Arecibo Observatory (Sec. 10365)
  • Establish a new Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (Sec. 10381). Their role will be to help transition basic research into practical uses (Sec. 10383).

Bioeconomy

  • Establish a National Engineering Biology Research and Development Initiative for future biotech innovation (Sec. 10402)

Other Science & Tech Provisions

  • Create 20 “regional technology and innovation hubs” in new cities (Sec. 10621)
  • Establish regional partnerships to establish clean energy rewards (Sec. 10622)
  • Establish a blockchain and crypto advisory position within the Office of Scientific & Technology Policy (Sec. 10671)

National Clean Energy

  • 15M/year Provide resources to accelerate clean energy through small grant incubators (Sec. 10713)
  • 1M/year to host clean energy competitions for universities (Sec. 10714)
  • 100M/year for the DOE to research microelectronics for energy innovation (Sec. 10731)
  • 390M to support building nuclear reactors for research purposes (Sec. 10744)
  • 800M for infrastructure and maintenance at national labs (Sec. 10761)
  • 800M to support R&D for advanced nuclear reactors (Sec. 10781)

NASA

  • Establishes a Moon to Mars office for humans to land on the planet (Sec. 10811)
  • Formally extends the ISS lifetime to 2030 (Sec. 10815)
  • Plan for the next generation of observatories (Sec. 10823)
  • R&D for experimental aircraft such as low-boom supersonics (Sec. 10831)
  • R&D for advanced airplanes that use clean energy (Sec. 10833)

Conclusion

Overall, I’m excited. There is so much funding across so many different categories that I’m looking forward to seeing play out. Advances in energy, space, education, and more have bold promises for a bright decade. I can’t help but daydream for all the progress we’ll see.

We can spend the next five years squabbling about the nuances of what is funding and what isn’t or we could actually start getting into the science. For myself, I’d much prefer the latter (while continuing to advocate for the former).

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Nick Felker

Nick Felker

Social Media Expert -- Rowan University 2017 -- IoT & Assistant @ Google