Since its inception in 1992, DARPA’S Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) has helped create and prevent strategic surprise through investments in compact microelectronic components such as microprocessors, Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and photonic devices. MTO’s revolutionary work applying advanced capabilities in areas such as wide-band gap materials, phased array radars, high-energy lasers and infrared imaging have helped the United States establish and maintain technological superiority for more than two decades.
MTO and its predecessors have played a vital role in developing the foundation for many of today's technologies and in shaping future systems. For example, the Microwave and Millimeter-wave Monolithic Integrated Circuits (MIMIC) program and the follow-on Microwave and Analog Front End Technology (MAFET) program established the first gallium arsenide radio frequency (RF) technology that ultimately led to the cellular commercial infrastructure. The Chip-Scale Atomic Clock (CSAC) program, which integrated electronics, photonics, and MEMS to form a timing module with atomic clock precision in a compact (1 cubic centimeter) package, enabled ultra-miniaturized and ultra-low power atomic clocks for high-security communication and jam-resistant GPS receivers. MTO has also enabled materials such as gallium nitride (GaN) for military and commercial applications. Transistors made with GaN enable circuits that can operate at higher power and efficiency as compared to legacy gallium arsenide (GaAs) circuits. These high-power amplifier circuits are used in modern and emerging radar and electronic warfare systems. These are but a few examples of the large impact MTO has made in the foundational technology for military and commercial applications. From signal processing through exploiting physics, MTO will continue to provide the technological underpinnings for future military systems.
MTO is the matchmaker between fundamental research and the technological base that enables new classes of systems. Much like the technology arena we work in, MTO is constantly evolving its thrusts to meet the changing national security landscape. Our major areas of focus and investment are organized in the following fields: Electromagnetic Spectrum, Decentralization, Information Microsystems, and Globalization. MTO will continue to leverage the foundational communities among academia, private industry, and government laboratories to explore solutions to these challenge areas.