Guinness World Records has recognized DARPA’s Terahertz Electronics program for creating the fastest solid-state amplifier integrated circuit ever measured. The 10-stage common-source MMIC achieves 9 dB gain at 1.03 THz. Noise figure and output power have not yet been measured.
The MMIC was designed and fabricated by Northrop Grumman Corp. using 25 nm InP HEMTs as the active devices. Researchers used E-beam lithography to define the gates on the MMIC, which was 18 µm thick and no bigger than a grain of kosher salt, according to Bill Deal, manager of the Terahertz Electronics program at Northrop Grumman.
The previous high frequency record for a solid-state amplifier was 850 GHz, set in 2012 by Northrop Grumman, on the same DARPA program.
The objective of the Terahertz Electronics program is to develop the device and integration technologies to realize compact, high-performance transceivers that operate above a THz. The program is funding the development of InP HBT and HEMT transistor technologies as well as low-loss interconnects to integrate multiple MMICs into compact transmitter and receiver modules.
“Terahertz circuits promise to open up new areas of research and unforeseen applications in the sub-millimeter-wave spectrum, in addition to bringing unprecedented performance to circuits operating at more conventional frequencies,” said Dev Palmer, DARPA program manager. “This breakthrough could lead to revolutionary technologies such as high-resolution security imaging systems, improved collision-avoidance radar, communications networks with many times the capacity of current systems and spectrometers that could detect potentially dangerous chemicals and explosives with much greater sensitivity.”