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Photos: SkyWater; Photo Illustration: Axios Visuals

In 2017, with funding from a Minnesota private equity firm, a small startup called SkyWater Technology bought a chip foundry from Cypress Semiconductor in hopes of sparking a resurgence in U.S. chipmaking. Now, with the government pining for more homegrown tech manufacturing, that bet is starting to pay off.

Why it matters: No one is going to suddenly start making iPhones in the U.S., but chip production is one area of tech manufacturing that still has roots in the U.S. The key is finding new uses so that work doesn't just fade out like other tech manufacturing.

"We’re kind of in the right place at the right time."
Thomas Sonderman, President, SkyWater Technology

Driving the news: SkyWater has a deal with MIT and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to commercialize a new kind of chip-making technology. The approach combines traditional silicon with carbon nanotubes to produce a three-dimensional structure.

The basics: SkyWater has about 500 employees cranking out about 10,000 chip wafers per month at the Bloomington facility in Minnesota. The company positions itself as somewhere between factories like TSMC and GlobalFoundries and research facilities like Sandia National Labs.

  • The 14-acre facility, with its 80,000-square-foot cleanroom, uses an older generation of manufacturing with thicker wiring and smaller wafers, but this has benefits that commercial fabs don't — namely the freedom to experiment with new ideas and manufacturing processes. About one-sixth of the facility is devoted to developing new techniques.

History lesson: The facility began life 30 years ago and was initially owned by Control Data, which mostly did government work including top-secret projects. It was sold to Cypress Semiconductor in the early 1990s.

Even after the sale to SkyWater, Cypress remains the facility's largest customer, though Sonderman says about a third of its work is for other customers, with plans to grow that market over time.

Yes, but: There are other U.S. chip factories, but all the "pure-play" contract manufacturers are foreign-owned, such as Israeli-owned Tower Jazz, Belgian-owned Xfab and UAE-controlled GlobalFoundries. (Intel has a number of chipmaking factories in the U.S. While many are for its own use, it also does some foundry work.)

Go deeper: The bottom line: America’s chipmakers go to war vs. China

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.