Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyOur Research

Our Research

DARPA’s investment strategy begins with a portfolio approach. Reaching for outsized impact means taking on risk, and high risk in pursuit of high payoff is a hallmark of DARPA’s programs. We pursue our objectives through hundreds of programs. By design, programs are finite in duration while creating lasting revolutionary change. They address a wide range of technology opportunities and national security challenges. This assures that while individual efforts might fail—a natural consequence of taking on risk—the total portfolio delivers. More

For reference, past DARPA research programs can be viewed in the Past Programs Archive.

The goal of the EXTREME Program is to develop new optical components, devices, systems, architectures and design tools using Engineered Optical Materials (EnMats) to enable new functionality and/or vastly improve size, weight, and power characteristics of traditional optical systems. EnMats are broadly defined to include, but are not limited to, metamaterials (both metallic and dielectric), scattering surfaces and volumes, holographic structures, and diffractive elements. More
Today’s network subsystems are a major performance bottleneck on the paths that interconnect multiprocessor servers. In comparison with processing speeds, parallelization, and storage speed-ups, the capacity of network links has relatively worsened over time, and to a dramatic extent. This bottleneck has remained unaddressed due to commercial incentives focused on incremental technology advances across multiple, independent market siloes in network and server technology. This has made network interface cards (NICs), which bridge the network/server boundary, an afterthought in both technology marketplaces. More
Nearly all military-fielded imaging systems contain detector arrays fabricated using planar processes developed for electronic integrated circuits, resulting in the need to use large and complex optics to properly bring imaged objects into focus. Recent industry-led advancements have resulted in modestly curved, small-area, visible-light image sensors. The Focal arrays for Curved Infrared Imagers (FOCII) program plans to build upon the visible sensor advancements from industry by extending this capability towards large format cryogenically cooled infrared imagers with extreme curvatures to vastly improve performance while reducing weight, volume, and cost of optics. More
Military service members experience an increased lifetime risk of neuropsychiatric conditions, such as depression, post-traumatic stress, and substance abuse. These conditions are substantially more prevalent in both the active duty population and veterans relative to civilians. More
The Von Neumann architecture has significantly aided the rapid advancement of computing over the past seven decades. However, moving data between the processors and memory components of this architecture requires significant time and high-energy consumption, which constrains the computing performance and workload. Overcoming this bottleneck requires new computing architectures and devices that can significantly advance the computing performance beyond the traditional practice of transistor scaling (i.e., Moore’s Law). More
The Friend or Foe program aims to develop biosurveillance technology that can detect bacterial pathogens as, or even before, they threaten the military and homeland. The goal of the program is to quickly determine whether an unknown bacterium is harmless or virulent by directly identifying pathogenic behavior, avoiding conventional strategies that rely on known biomarkers. More
The goal of the Fundamental Design (FUN Design) program is to determine whether we can develop or discover a new set of building blocks to describe conceptual designs. The design building blocks will capture the components’ underlying physics allowing a family of nonintuitive solutions to be generated. More
Detection of photons—the fundamental particles of light—is ubiquitous, but performance limitations of existing photon detectors hinders the effectiveness of applications such as light/laser detection and ranging (LIDAR/LADAR), photography, astronomy, quantum information science, medical imaging, microscopy and communications. In all of these applications, performance could be improved by replacing classical, analog light detectors with high-performance photon counting detectors. More