December 6, 2022

Volume XII, Number 340

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December 06, 2022

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December 05, 2022

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BIS Issues Rule on Export Controls for Semiconductor and Gas Turbine Technologies

On August 12, 2022, the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security issued an interim final rule establishing new export controls on four technologies that support the production of advanced semiconductors and gas turbines. The agency has determined Gallium Oxide and diamond, Electronic Computer-Aided Design (ECAD) software specially designed for the development of integrated circuits with Gate-All-Around Field-Effect Transistor (GAAFET) structure, and Pressure Gain Combustion (PGC) technology meet the criteria for emerging and foundational technologies under Section 1758 of the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) and are essential to US national security. The rule implements the controls agreed upon by Participating States at the December 2021 Wassenaar Arrangement Plenary. The US implementation of the rule includes controls on a wider range of technologies than agreed upon in the Wassenaar Arrangement, including additional equipment, software, and technology used to produce semiconductors.

Section 1758 Technologies

As part of a May 23, 2022 rule, BIS confirmed the agency would no longer characterize new controls as either “emerging” or “foundational” technologies under Section 1758 of ECRA. Instead, the agency now refers to such technologies as “Section 1758 technologies.” BIS explained this change in approach reflected the difficulties in drawing useful distinctions between emerging and foundational technologies for the purposes of fulfilling BIS’s statutory obligations under Section 1758 of ECRA. The agency contends the more general nomenclature allows for a focus on issuing controls, resulting in a more streamlines rulemaking process.

Gallium Oxide and Diamond

Gallium Oxide (Ga2 O3) and diamond are two substrates of ultra-wide bandgap semiconductors. The materials that enable semiconductors to work under more severe conditions, including higher voltages and higher temperatures. According to BIS, because of this expanded capability, the devices that use these materials have an increased potential for military use. Based on this military potential, BIS added Gallium Oxide and diamond as Section 1758 technologies to the Commerce Control List under the Export Control Classification Numbers (ECCNs) 3C001.d-.f, 3C005.a and .b, and 3C006. Additionally, BIS revised ECCN 3E003, adding paragraph 3E003.h to control “technology” for the “development” or “production” of substrates of Gallium Oxide for electronic components. The CCL already listed “technology” for the “development” or “production” of substrates of diamond under ECCN 3E003.d.

ECAD

ECAD is a category of software tools used for designing, analyzing, optimizing, and validating the performance of integrated circuits or printed circuit boards. ECAD software can be used in various applications by the military and aerospace defense industries to design complex integrated circuits. A prevalent use of ECAD software is to connect the stages involved in progressing smoothly from the Register Transfer Level (RTL) design stage to the logic design stage, then finally to the physical design stage, which results in Geometrical Database Standard II (GDSII) of integrated circuits. GAAFET technology enables faster and more radiation-tolerant integrated circuits and are critical to scaling to 3 nanometer and below technology nodes. GAAFET technologies have commercial as well as military applications, including defense and communication satellites.

To implement the control, BIS added a new ECCN 3D006 to the CCL to control ECAD “software” “specially designed” for the “development” of integrated circuits having any GAAFET structure and meeting the parameters set forth in ECCN 3D006. Such software must be either “specially designed” for implementing RTL to GDSII or an equivalent standard or “specially designed” for optimization of power or timing rules. The new ECCN 3D006 also includes a new technical note that defines ECAD, RTL, and GDSII.

BIS is seeking public comment to identify “what specific ECAD features are particularly suited to design GAAFET circuits”. Additionally, BIS’s Technical Advisory Committees has recommended industry has the chance to submit public comments on the implementation of ECCN 3D006 control. As such, there is a 60-day delayed effective date for the addition of 3D006 to the CCL and a 30-day comment period with respect to the implementation.

The comment period is open through September 14, 2022.

PGC

PGC technology can be used in both terrestrial and aerospace applications, including rockets and hypersonic systems. The technology has the potential to increase gas turbine engine efficiency by more than 10 percent. Although BIS has not identified any engine currently using PGC, there is substantial research in the area and the increased fuel efficiency and compact engine could provide military advantages. PGC-based propulsion systems for rockets, space launch vehicles, missiles, and military gas turbine engines, and technology directly related to such items, are already defense articles described on the U.S. Munitions List (USML). The BIS controls the development and production technology for combustors not described on the USML.

The rule revises 9E003.a.2.e to cover PGC technology. Specifically, it adds paragraph 9E003.a.2.e to control development and production technology for combustors utilizing “pressure gain combustion” not described on the USML and adds a technical note to define “pressure gain combustion”.

This rule is effective August 15, 2022, with the exception of ECCN 3D006, which is effective October 14, 2022.

© Copyright 2022 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 238
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