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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 Digital RF Battlespace Emulator (DRBE) program aims to create the world’s first, large-scale, virtual RF environment for developing, training, and testing advanced radio frequency (RF) systems. The DRBE system will seek to enable numerous RF systems such as radar and electronic warfare (EW) systems to interact with each other in a fully closed-loop RF environment. More
The Direct On-Chip Digital Optical Synthesizer (DODOS) program seeks to create a technological revolution in optical frequency control analogous to the disruptive advances in microwave frequency control in the 1940s. More
Conventional analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) are fundamentally limited by timing jitter in the sampling source, forcing a trade-off between bandwidth and resolution. As a result, radio frequency (RF) systems are typically designed with narrow-bandwidth channels. These engineering constraints present problems when faced with broadband signals and ultra-short pulses. At high carrier frequencies, RF systems are further limited by the tuner that must mix down to baseband for electronic digitization. More
In the current art, users with significant computing requirements have typically depended on access to large, highly shared data centers to which they backhaul their data (e.g., images, video, or network log files) for processing. However, in many operational scenarios, the cost and latency of this backhaul can be problematic, especially when network throughput is severely limited or when the user application requires a near real-time response. In such cases, users’ ability to leverage computing power that is available “locally” (in the sense of latency, available throughput, or similar measures that are relevant to the user or mission) could substantially improve application performance while reducing mission risk. More
As commercial technologies become more advanced and widely available, adversaries are rapidly developing capabilities that put our forces at risk. To counter these threats, the U.S. military is developing systems-of-systems concepts in which networks of manned and unmanned platforms, weapons, sensors, and electronic warfare systems interact over robust satellite and tactical communications links. These approaches offer flexible and powerful options to the warfighter, but the complexity introduced by the increase in the number of employment alternatives creates a battle management challenge. More
Complex Defense systems, such as RADAR, communications, imaging and sensing systems rely on a wide variety of microsystems devices and materials. These diverse devices and materials typically require different substrates and different processing technologies, preventing the integration of these devices into single fabrication process flows. Thus, integration of these device technologies has historically occurred only at the chip-to-chip level, which introduces significant bandwidth and latency-related performance limitations on these systems, as well as increased size, weight, power, and packaging/assembly costs as compared to microsystems fully integrated on a single chip. More
The general-purpose computer has remained the dominant computing architecture for the last 50 years, driven largely by the relentless pace of Moore’s Law. As this trajectory shows signs of slowing, however, it has become increasingly more challenging to achieve performance gains from generalized hardware, setting the stage for a resurgence in specialized architectures. Today’s specialized, application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) — hardware customized for a specific application — offer limited flexibility and are costly to design, fabricate, and program. More
DRINQS is a fundamental science program that aims to investigate a recent paradigm shift in quantum research, which maintains that periodically driving a system out of equilibrium may increase the length of time that its quantum state endures. DRINQS aims to investigate this phenomenon and demonstrate significant gains over conventional states in timekeeping, field sensing, and information processing for use in national security applications. More
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