BIS Announces New Export Controls on Tech Used for Semiconductors, Gas Turbines
The Bureau of Industry and Security last week announced new export controls on four technologies that can be used to produce advanced semiconductors and gas turbine engines. The controls, which were agreed to by members of the multilateral Wassenaar Arrangement at last year’s plenary, will apply to two substrates of ultra-wide bandgap semiconductors, certain Electronic Computer Aided Design (ECAD) software and certain pressure gain combustion (PGC) technology.
BIS said the new export controls, which meet the agency’s Export Control Reform Act mandate to restrict shipments of emerging and foundational technologies, will help limit the ability of U.S. adversaries to produce advanced technologies for their militaries. BIS Undersecretary Alan Estevez said any technologies that allow semiconductors and engines to "operate faster, more efficiently, longer, and in more severe conditions can be game changers in both the commercial and military context.”
The restrictions will specifically protect the technologies from “nefarious” end uses, said Thea Kendler, assistant secretary for export administration. “Global commerce is driven by innovation -- new ideas, and novel ways to apply old ones,” she said. “BIS is vigilant in assessing the development of new technology and whether it may be used for civil and military purposes.”
The controls will apply to Gallium Oxide (Ga2O3) and diamond; ECAD software that is specially designed to develop integrated circuits with any “Gate-All-Around Field-Effect Transistor (GAAFET) structure”; and PGC technology used to produce and develop gas turbine engine components or systems. The controls take effect Aug. 15 except for the ECAD software, which includes a public comment period to allow industry to provide feedback on the scope of the control, potential license exceptions and more. Comments on the ECAD software control are due Sept. 14, and the control will take effect Oct. 14.
BIS said ECAD software is used by military and aerospace defense industries to design “complex integrated circuits” and electronic systems, and ECAD software solutions have “enabled a successful design phase of the first Gate-All-Around transistor System-on-Chip test chip.” Gate-All-Around transistor technology is “key” to “scaling to 3 nanometer and below technology nodes,” BIS said, which could lead to 50% faster chip operation compared with other “bulk” technologies. “Faster, less bulky, energy efficient, and radiation-hardened integrated circuits would advance many commercial as well as military applications, including defense and communication satellites,” the agency said.
ECAD software will be added to the Commerce Control List under new Export Control Classification Number 3D006, which will require an export license for national security (NS) and anti-terrorism (AT) reasons for countries listed with an “X” in columns NS:2 or AT:1 on the Commerce Country Chart, which includes China. The agency said it’s using a public comment period to seek input on what “specific ECAD features are particularly suited to design GAAFET circuits to ensure that the U.S. Government effectively implements this new control.” Comments should address the scope of the control’s license requirement, information that would help interagency reviews of license applications, recommendations to “overcome compliance difficulties,” suggestions for “future revisions of the control text as the software undergoes technological advancements” and more.
BIS also will place export controls on Ga2O3 and diamond -- two substrates of ultra-wide bandgap semiconductors -- which can help certain devices work under “more severe conditions,” including higher voltage or temperatures. The items have “significant military potential,” BIS said, and will be added to ECCN 3C001. A license will be required for NS and AT reasons for countries listed with an “X” in columns NS:2 or AT:1 on the Commerce Country Chart. BIS also noted that the development and production technology for the items are classified under ECCN 3E003.
Another control will restrict exports of PGC technology, which can raise gas turbine engine efficiency by more than 10%, BIS said. The agency said the technology has “extensive potential to impact terrestrial systems, as well as aerospace applications such as rockets and hypersonic systems.” BIS hasn’t found any engines currently using PGC technology but said there is “substantial ongoing research regarding potential production, partly because of the benefits it could provide militaries. The technology could increase fuel efficiency and “provide military advantages such as a longer loiter time and easier packaging,” BIS said.
Although certain PGC-based propulsion systems for rockets, space launch vehicles and military engines are already listed on the State Department’s U.S. Munitions List, BIS said it’s “increasingly likely” the technology will eventually be used for “commercial industrial gas turbine engines.”
The control will be listed under ECCN 9E003.a.2.e and apply to “development and production technology” for combustors using “pressure gain combustion” that are not described on the USML, BIS said. A license will be required for NS and AT reasons for countries listed with an “X” in columns NS:1 or AT:1 on the Commerce Country Chart.
All exports, excluding the ECAD software, that now require a license as a result of these changes that were aboard a carrier to a port as of Aug. 15 may proceed to their destinations under the previous eligibility as long as they are exported before Sept. 14, BIS said. Any items not exported before midnight on Sept. 14 will require a license.
All exports of the ECAD software described in this rule that now require a license as a result of these changes that were aboard a carrier to a port as of Oct. 14 may proceed to their destinations under the previous eligibility as long as they are exported before Nov. 14, BIS said. Any items not exported before midnight on Nov. 14 will require a license.