The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has released information pertaining to two projects aimed at developing technology deemed crucial for improving American communications and microelectronic systems.
The Wireband Adaptive Radio Frequency Protection (WARP) project aims to protect wideband radios with “new tunable filter, signal canceller architectures”. The Department of Defense (DoD) is increasingly having to deal with congestion on the radio frequency spectrum leading to externally and internally generated interference with DoD systems.
“To mitigate this challenge and support the continued use of these wideband radios, DARPA developed the Wideband Adaptive RF Protection (WARP) program. WARP is exploring the development of tunable filters to manage external interference as well as tunable signal canceller architectures to address self-interference. The goal is to develop technologies that are tunable over wide bandwidths with low-loss and high-linearity that can protect defense and commercial wideband systems.”
The list of technologies being developed as part of the project is extensive and includes “intrinsically-switched electromagnetic (EM) resonators, multiferroics, acoustics, and photonics”, “new circuit architectures, heterogeneous device integration, and advanced RF packaging”. The project research however is committed primarily towards two main efforts. The first is in the 0.1-6 GHz band and focusses on reconfigurable signal cancellers. The second focusses on the 2-18 GHz band and emphasizes new filter architectures. A wide range of corporate and academic partners are engaged in the program including Raytheon and the University of Pennsylvania.
The other DARPA project which the agency has released information on recently is the Generating Radio Frequency with Photonic Oscillators for Low Noise (GRYPHON) project. Oscillators which are currently available for defense systems face a number of efficiency-related issues which limit their usefulness: “size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C), limited tunability, and high sensitivity to their surroundings”. As oscillators are core to almost all modern microelectronic systems, improving upon them is extremely important. The current shortcomings often limit the performance of military radar and commercial 5G systems.
Once again, research is confined primarily to two main areas.
“The first aims to develop a prototype that can be readily tested within an application and brought to maturation quickly. During the first phase of the program, research teams will prioritize achieving low phase noise and compact form factor, while tuning and robustness will be emphasized in later phases. The second research area will prioritize understanding the fundamental limits of photonic microwave generation. Research teams will be asked to offer at least an order of magnitude leap in one of three target metrics: size, phase noise, or frequency span.”
This program is still in its early stages and will be hosting a “virtual Proposers Day” in early April.