BAE Systems awarded $12 Mn to boost effectiveness of radio frequency-based applications

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded BAE Systems’ FAST Labs™ research and development organization a $12 million contract for the Technologies for Heat Removal in Electronics at the Device Scale (THREADS) program.

The DARPA THREADS program aims to overcome the temperature limits at the transistor scale inherent to power-amplifying functions.

With new materials and approaches to diffusing the heat that degrades performance and mission life for monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs), THREADS aims to resolve the thermal management challenges of today’s gallium nitride (GaN) devices.

Many military systems leverage radio frequency (RF) electronics and have historically operated at powers well below their theoretical limits because the GaN transistors get too hot.

Solving this challenge will improve the range of RF-based systems by nearly threefold. This will expand engagement distances for warfighters—taking them further out of harm’s way.

 “Excessive heat in electronics has been a long-standing challenge in the aerospace and defense industry,” said Caprice Gray, director of Device Materials and Manufacturing Research at BAE Systems’ FAST Labs.

“With material and process enhancements, we are on the verge of overcoming this challenge and doing so will unleash the hidden potential in mission critical electronic warfare and other RF-based systems.”

BAE Systems will leverage its expertise and track record of developing and manufacturing advanced microelectronics for the program at its Microelectronics Center (MEC) located in Nashua, New Hampshire.

The MEC is an accredited DoD Category 1A Trusted Supplier and manufactures GaN and gallium arsenide integrated circuits in production quantities for critical Department of Defense programs.

Work on the THREADS program includes collaboration with Modern Microsystems, Penn State University, Stanford University, University of Notre Dame, and University of Texas at Dallas.