Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Electronics and Microchips

Technologies based on the manipulation of electrons and, increasingly, photons

Showing 95 results for Electronics RSS
Since the advent of microelectronics in the mid-20th century, humanity has been on a nonstop sprint to eke more speed, power efficiency, and computational power from the sextillions (1021) of ever more miniaturized transistors that have come to underlie so much of the modern technoscape.
If human ears could hear the electromagnetic spectrum, the noise levels these days would be overwhelming. The skyrocketing use of wireless devices in military and civilian domains has created a complicated and cacophonous environment, filled with signals of widely varying frequency and amplitude and a menagerie of modulations. For warfighters trying to maintain critical communications links, interpret ambiguous radar returns, or defend against electronic warfare tactics, the ability to sort through that thicket of waveforms is essential—to identify where key signals are coming from, what kind of signals they are, and how best to send and receive information via the least contested spectral bands.
Military and civilian technological systems, from fighter aircraft to networked household appliances, are becoming ever more dependent upon software systems inherently vulnerable to electronic intruders. To meet its mission of preventing technological surprise and increasing national security, DARPA has advanced a number of technologies to make software more secure. But what if hardware could be recruited to do a bigger share of that work? That’s the question DARPA’s new System Security Integrated Through Hardware and Firmware (SSITH) program aims to answer.
The Department of Defense’s proposed FY 2018 budget includes a $75 million allocation for DARPA in support of a new, public-private “electronics resurgence” initiative. The initiative seeks to undergird a new era of electronics in which advances in performance will be catalyzed not just by continued component miniaturization but also by radically new microsystem materials, designs, and architectures. The new funds will supplement the Agency’s FY 2018 R&D portfolio in electronics, photonics, and related systems to create a coordinated effort valued at more than $200 million, to be further supplemented by significant commercial sector investments.
Many people who use computers and other digital devices are aware that all the words and images displayed on their monitors boil down to a sequence of ones and zeros. But few likely appreciate what is behind those ones and zeros: microscopic arrays of “magnetic moments” (imagine tiny bar magnets with positive and negative poles). When aligned in paralleled in ferromagnetic materials such as iron, these moments create patterns and streams of magnetic bits—the ones and zeros that are the lifeblood of all things digital.