August 2, 2012

Northrop Grumman demonstrates integrated receiver circuit operating at 850 GHz under DARPA Terahertz Electronics Program

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. – Northrop Grumman has demonstrated an 850 gigahertz integrated receiver that brings the company much closer to being the first to reach a Department of Defense goal for developing transistor-based electronics that can operate at center frequencies past 1 terahertz.

Company engineers reported they scaled the frequency rate to 850 GHz, or 0.85 trillion cycles per second under Phase 2 of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s Terahertz Electronics program, setting a new performance record. Under Phase 1, they developed a Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit that operated at 670 GHz, or 0.67 trillion cycles per second, in 2010.

“Integrated circuits operating at frequencies past 1 THz will enable submillimeter wave technology for covert, small aperture communications, high-resolution imaging and leap-ahead advancements in explosive detection spectroscopy,” said Dr. William Deal, Terahertz Electronics program manager for Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector. “This unprecedented increase in integrated circuit operating speed is especially important for emerging applications in military communications and radar. The amplifiers and receivers we’re demonstrating will enable more sensitive radar and produce sensors with highly improved resolution.”

In addition to demonstrating low-noise integrated receivers under the DARPA program, the company developed and tested low-noise amplifiers and power amplifiers. “Success in the initial phase led to a $12.5 million contract, bringing the total value of the program to $28 million,” Deal said.

The goal of DARPA’s Terahertz Electronics program is to develop the critical device and integration technologies necessary to realize compact, high-performance electronic circuits that operate at center frequencies exceeding 1.0 THz. The program focuses on two areas: THz high-power amplifier modules and THz transistor electronics.

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