DARPA wants to cultivate the ultimate transistor of the future


Researchers with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will this month present a program that looks to develop a new generation of radiofrequency (RF) and millimeter-wave transistors to address the power and range requirements for billions of wirelessly communicating devices in everything from unmanned aircraft and home appliances to sensors and smartphones.

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“The same basic transistor types have been dominant since their invention and we have been engineering the heck out of them for 50 years,” said Dan Green, a program manager in DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) and the overseer of the forthcoming Dynamic Range-enhanced Electronics and Materials (DREaM) program. “We’ve gotten a lot out of that approach, but the focus on so few types of transistor technologies and just a few semiconductor materials also has fundamentally limited us in the RF world.”

DREaM transistors will transmit and receive the large and complex RF signals of the future and they will do so in smaller packages while consuming minimal power, Green stated.

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