Wednesday, July 2, 2014

DARPA Develops Silicon Transmitter Operating in Millimeter-wave Range

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced an all-silicon, microchip-sized transmitter that operates at 94 GHz -- the first silicon-only SoC that has achieved such a high frequency, which falls in the millimeter-wave range.

Researchers with DARPA’s Efficient Linearized All-Silicon Transmitter ICs (ELASTx) program have now shown that silicon chips be used for high data rate, millimeter-wave wireless communications systems.  Conventionally, such systems have used gallium arsenide (GaAs) or gallium nitride (GaN) chips.

DARPA said its all-silicon SoC transmitter uses a digitally assisted power amplifier that dynamically adapts amplifier performance characteristics to changing signal requirements, and it can support a range of modulation formats.  Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems supported the research program.

“This accomplishment opens the door for co-designing digital CMOS [complementary metal oxide semiconductors] and millimeter-wave capabilities as an integrated system on an all-silicon chip, which should also make possible new design architectures for future military RF systems,” said Dev Palmer, DARPA program manager.


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