International Report

Surrey Aids Nanotechnology Research with UHV STM/SEM

The University of Surrey's (Guildford, Surrey, England) acquisition of an Ultra High Vacuum Scanning Tunnelling Microscope/Scanning Electron Microscope (UHV STM/SEM) is being billed as a central figure to a £1.2 million future nanotechnology research project that is headed up by the institution's Professor of Solid-State Electronics, Ravi Silva. Built to specification, the Surrey UHV STM/SEM is housed in the University's Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) and is claimed to be one of only six such instruments worldwide. Professor Silva's team will use the device (which is described as representing a 'completely new dimension [in] the fabrication of [nano-scale] devices') to research carbon nanotubes (the Buckyball derivative of Carbon 60) as a precursor to a new generation of devices that will be smaller and faster than current silicon technology. The Silva programme is being channelled into four areas to facilitate rapid exploitation in all, with the key issue being small device structures. Areas being explored include field emission-based electron energy sources, quantum dots as light emitters and the development of ultra fast terrahertz electron beam and carbon nanotube energy storage devices.

Surrey's carbon nanotube research is initially funded for a three-year period and it is hoped that other projects will be able to exploit the new UHV STM/SEM facility well into the next decade. For its part, Surrey's ATI is described as bringing together six research groups from three Schools within the University to stimulate cross-disciplinary research. Alongside the described carbon nanotube effort, overall research areas will include microwave subsystems, lasers and optoelectronics, large area electronics, ion beam applications and biosensors. To maximise utility, Surrey further notes that the ATI is a multi-purpose facility that has been designed for the rapid re-direction of use when required.

Philips Opens New Semiconductor Design Centre

On 8 October 2002, Netherlands contractor Royal Philips Electronics announced the opening of the Philips Delft Design Centre (PDDC) at Delft, Holland. A cooperative venture with Delft University of Technology (DUT), Philips cites the new facility as a symbol of its commitment to investing in the future of standard analogue semiconductor technology and to providing the best possible learning environment for electronic engineering students. Initially, the PDDC will have three permanent Philips employees (dedicated to design work in support of standard analogue Integrated Circuit (IC) developments) and three professors, two PhD students and two MSc students from DUT. The PDDC project builds on a 17-year relationship between Philips and DUT and is designed to capitalise on DUT's prowess in the analogue field. The emphasis on analogue design is said to reflect the importance of analogue devices (such as interface and power management ICs) to the development of digital applications. Looking to the future, Philips engineers from France, the Netherlands and the USA will be able to rotate through the facility to build competence and there is the expectation that the PDDC will have grown to 30 full-time employees by 2005-2007.

Sweden Starts Automobile Radar Interference Tests

Sweden's National Testing and Research Institute has launched a programme to provide a capability whereby it can test the impact of radar-generated electromagnetic interference on processors used to control automobile functions such as throttle control, gear (shift) changing and braking. While not yet as common as potential risks from sources such as mobile phone base stations, the Swedes feel that the potential threat from radars such as air traffic control sensors at airports is sufficient as to warrant an interference test programme. Accordingly, UK contractor TMD Technologies Ltd. has developed and supplied a dedicated L-band (1 to 2 GHz) amplifier for use in the effort. Designated as the PTC6468, the new equipment operates from 1.1 to 1.5 GHz at 20 kW (min), with 24 kW (typ) at the band edges and 35 kW at mid-band. Created over a six-month period, PTC6468 incorporates a high power L-band travelling wave tube source, a switch mode power supply and control circuitry. The unit is liquid cooled (water with anti-freeze and anti-corrosion additives) and control is via a digital front panel or remotely using an IEEE standard interface. Of the various components, the amplifiers switch mode power supply is a re-engineered variant of TMD's standard 50 kW radar power supply and the company sees PTC6468 as the starting point for an interesting niche market in such test equipment.

Portugal Selects Italian Radar

Portugal has selected Italian contractor Galileo Avionica's APS-717 search and navigation radar for installation aboard the 12 EH.101 utility/search and rescue helicopters it is procuring from the Anglo-Italian AgustaWestland joint venture. Operating in the I-band (8 to 10 GHz), APS-717 is described as being suitable for both fixed- and rotary-wing applications, and as offering search and rescue, surveillance, navigation and target designation capabilities. The equipment can be integrated with its host platform's navigation system and a forward-looking infra-red (FLIR) sensor. A 32 target track-while-scan facility is a system option. Usually reliable sources suggest that APS-717 variants have been installed aboard Italian Air Force AS-61A-4/HH-3F search and rescue helicopters and G222 transport aircraft together with AB 412HP helicopters of the Italian coast guard service. As currently scheduled, Galileo Avionica will deliver the Portuguese radars during the summer of 2003.

BAE Systems Wins Kuwaiti HIDAS Order

UK-based BAE Systems Avionics has announced that Kuwait has selected the company's Helicopter Integrated Defensive Aids System (HIDAS) for installation aboard its AH-64D Longbow Apache battlefield attack helicopters. Alongside the equipment itself, the deal involves a comprehensive training and support package that includes integration of the system into a Longbow Apache crew trainer that is being supplied to the Kuwaiti Air Force. The overall package is understood to form part of the US Foreign Military Sales effort under which Boeing is supplying Kuwait with the AH-64.

The HIDAS configuration being supplied to Kuwait is the same as that being fitted to the British Army's Apache AH.1 attack helicopter. As such, the suite is described as being an integrated modular equipment that incorporates the BAE Systems Avionics' Sky Guardian 2000 radar warning receiver (RWR) and Series 1223 laser warning receiver (LWR), the BAE Systems North America AN/AAR-57(V) Common Missile Warning System (CMWS) and a Thales Optronics (Vinten) Vicon 78 Series 455 CounterMeasures Dispensing System (CMDS). Of these, the Sky Guardian 2000 RWR covers the 0.5 to 40.0 GHz frequency range and houses (in its electronics unit) the suite's controller. The HIDAS LWR's processors are housed in the system's Data Transfer Unit (DTU), as are those for its CMDS. For its part, the CMDS features dedicated chaff (64 shots each magazine) and infra-red decoy flare (32 each magazine) dispensing modules, while the heads for the suite's LWR, CMWS and RWR are located in such a way as to provide 360° coverage in azimuth. The previously cited DTU is the medium by which the system receives necessary pre-flight messages, with data being loaded using a standard 40 MB PCMCIA card.