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Northrop Grumman Wins Terahertz Contract

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by Staff Writers
Los Angeles CA (SPX) May 20, 2009
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Northrop Grumman phase 1 of the $37-million Terahertz (THz) Electronics contract. Work on the contract will support military and space satellites with the development of active receivers and transmitters operating at 670 gigahertz that ensure reliable, high-resolution images, and other applications.

"This contract win shows that Northrop Grumman is at the leading edge of microelectronics technology capable of delivering dramatic improvements in performance and functionality for U.S. military and space systems," said Dwight Streit, vice president of Microelectronics Technology and Technical Development for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.

"Program Manager Bill Deal, our scientists and engineers are excited about helping to ensure the reliable communications ability of U.S. satellites and the safety of our warfighters performing critical tasks across the globe."

"The THz Electronics program will develop a technology for integrated circuits operating at far higher frequencies than ever possible before. This will be crucially important for emerging applications like terahertz communications and radars," said Dr. Mark Rosker, program manager of DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office.

"But of potentially even greater consequence, this program will drive the state of the art in high performance III-V electronics, with vast implication to RF circuits and systems operating at more conventional (microwave and millimeter-wave) frequencies."

The THz Electronics program is an extension of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems' successful $7.7-million phase one of development on the Sub-millimeter Wave Imaging Focal Plane Technology (SWIFT) program for DARPA.

SWIFT demonstrated the first active components, such as oscillators and amplifiers (low-noise and power) operating at 340 GHz, enabling systems for high-resolution imaging at sub-millimeter frequencies in all types of weather environments encountered by space and defense satellites.

Work on the THz Electronics program will move even higher in frequency, starting at 650 GHz this year. As with SWIFT, the current Program will continue to be supported by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems recently captured a Guinness World Record for the fastest transistor based on a device that has a maximum frequency of oscillation well in excess of 1,000 GHz.

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