Northrop Grumman IC Amplifier Achieves Speed of One Terahertz

Northrop Grumman Corporation reports that its IC amplifier has achieved one trillion cycles per second. The company says that Guinness World Records has recognized the record IC amplifier. The amplifier employs 10 transistor stages to operate at a speed of one terahertz (1012 Hz), or one trillion cycles per second. The record reportedly surpasses the company’s own performance world record of 850 billion cycles per second set in 2012.

The Northrop Grumman terahertz monolithic integrated circuit (TMIC) uses a super-scaled 25 nanometer gatelength indium phosphide high electron mobility transistor. This HEMT measures at a gain of 10 decibels at 1 terahertz and nine decibels at 1.03 terahertz. In comparison, wireless networks operate at 5.7 gigahertz and smartphones at 1 to 2 gigahertz.

Northrup Grumman developed the IC amplifier for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as a culmination of a three-phase contract to demonstrate transistor-based electronics operating at 670 gigahertz, 850 gigahertz and 1 terahertz. The company completed all three milestones.

“This breakthrough by the Northrop Grumman team 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,” said Dev Palmer, program manager, Microsystems Technology Office at DARPA. Additional applications could include medical imaging, atmospheric sensing, and radio astronomy.