JED - April 2016 - 24

DARPA: Advanced

A

Pushing Semiconductor Performance for EW and
By John Haystead

The Journal of Electronic Defense | April 2016

24

At the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), high speed and
high output power have long been principal goals in new semiconductor material research, but the ultimate objective
of much of its work is to push the capabilities of technology toward expanding
their reach in the Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS).
The Agency has a long track record
related to developing new materials capabilities including silicon complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS)
and III-V devices. III-V materials reference semiconductor elements in groups
III and V of the periodic table of chemical elements. Significant work in the
III-V area began with Gallium Arsenide
(GaAs), but has now also led into Indium
Phosphide (InP) and more recently Gallium Nitride (GaN). Both InP and GaN
having a continuing presence in DARPA's portfolio.

NEXT
Like most DARPA research efforts,
its current advanced materials research
builds on the work and accomplishments
of other earlier and related technology
development programs starting with the
Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Program,
a foundational GaN program that ran
through most of the early 2000s. This
effort developed GaN technology applicable to S band (2-4 GHz) and X band
(8 to 12 GHz) frequencies with characteristic transition frequencies for the
devices on the order of up to 150 GHz.
DARPA's Nitride Electronic NeXtGeneration Technology (NEXT) program
has continued this work with a focus
on scaling down the size of the devices allowing for parallel increases in
transition speeds and ultimately operating frequency. The goal of the NEXT
program was to scale devices into the

terahertz range and, today, DARPA has
demonstrated devices with characteristic transition frequencies over 500
GHz and an operating frequency range
well into W band (75-110 GHz). Says Dr.
Daniel Green, Program Manager, DARPA
Microsystems Technology Office (MTO),
"To give a physical sense of the scaling,
the devices made on the NEXT program
would fit inside the gate of the devices
that were made on the earlier program."
As explained by Green, the objective has not just been about pushing
toward higher speed, however, but also

about getting that high speed while
maintaining or improving the "Johnson's figure of merit" (JM), for delivering power at frequency. (As defined by
Wikipedia, "Johnson's figure of merit
is a measure of suitability of a semiconductor material for high-frequency
power transistor applications and requirements.") "What that means is
that we want to not only operate at W
band, but also to be able to project RF
power at those frequencies, capabilities
that aren't available from conventional
technologies," says Green.



JED - April 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - April 2016

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
World Report
DARPA Profile: Advanced Materials
Mission Profile: Non-Kinetic Thinking Creates New Possibilities for Air and Missile Defense
Threat Monitor
EW 101
AOC News
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - April 2016 - cover1
JED - April 2016 - cover2
JED - April 2016 - 3
JED - April 2016 - 4
JED - April 2016 - 5
JED - April 2016 - The View From Here
JED - April 2016 - 7
JED - April 2016 - Conferences Calendar
JED - April 2016 - 9
JED - April 2016 - Courses Calendar
JED - April 2016 - 11
JED - April 2016 - From the President
JED - April 2016 - 13
JED - April 2016 - 14
JED - April 2016 - The Monitor
JED - April 2016 - 16
JED - April 2016 - 17
JED - April 2016 - 18
JED - April 2016 - 19
JED - April 2016 - 20
JED - April 2016 - 21
JED - April 2016 - 22
JED - April 2016 - World Report
JED - April 2016 - DARPA Profile: Advanced Materials
JED - April 2016 - 25
JED - April 2016 - 26
JED - April 2016 - 27
JED - April 2016 - Mission Profile: Non-Kinetic Thinking Creates New Possibilities for Air and Missile Defense
JED - April 2016 - 29
JED - April 2016 - 30
JED - April 2016 - 31
JED - April 2016 - 32
JED - April 2016 - 33
JED - April 2016 - 34
JED - April 2016 - Threat Monitor
JED - April 2016 - 36
JED - April 2016 - EW 101
JED - April 2016 - 38
JED - April 2016 - AOC News
JED - April 2016 - 40
JED - April 2016 - Index of Advertisers
JED - April 2016 - JED Quick Look
JED - April 2016 - cover3
JED - April 2016 - cover4
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