May 27, 2010

Northrop Grumman Makes Worlds Fastest Integrated Circuit at 670 Gigahertz

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Northrop Grumman Corporation has set a new electronics performance record with a Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit (TMIC) operating at 0.67 terahertz (THz), or 0.67 trillion cycles per second. (H/T Popular Science

Developed at the company's Simon Ramo Microelectronics Center under a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Terahertz Electronics program, this new performance record more than doubles the frequency of the fastest reported integrated circuit.

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. Managed by DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office, the program focuses on two areas – terahertz high-power amplifier modules, and terahertz transistor electronics.

"The success of the THz Electronics program will lead to revolutionary applications such as THz imaging systems, sub-mm-wave ultra-wideband ultra-high-capacity communication links, and sub-mm-wave single-chip widely-tunable synthesizers for explosive detection spectroscopy," according to Dr. John Albrecht, THz Electronics program manager for DARPA.

Solid-State Amplifiers for Terahertz Electronics (4 page paper)

With the fMAX of current generation InP transistors pushing above 1-THz and new transistor scaling in progress, the operational frequency of solid-state amplifiers is being pushed towards THz frequencies. In this paper we present out latest work towards demonstrating THz frequency amplifiers, including measured gain and noise performance of a 0.48 THz low noise amplifier using scaled InP transistors. Initial performance of next generation transistors is also presented, along with infrastructure necessary to package and operate solid-state amplifiers at THz frequencies.

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