Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Integration

Compatible interconnection of disparate components and systems

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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. That early development ushered in a new era for microwave technology, transformed modern warfare, and has since been enabling a multitude of Department of Defense (DoD) and civilian capabilities, including radar, navigation technologies, and satellite and terrestrial communications. Extending frequency control to the optical regime is anticipated to greatly extend the technology base for the next generation of warfighter and other capabilities.
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.
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.
Military commanders responsible for situational awareness and command and control of assets in space know all too well the challenge that comes from the vast size of the space domain. The volume of Earth’s operational space domain is hundreds of thousands times larger than the Earth’s oceans. It contains thousands of objects hurtling at up to 17,000 miles per hour.
For decades, U.S. national security was ensured, in part, by the simple advantage of a near-monopoly on access to the most advanced technologies. Increasingly, however, the barriers to entry that prevented widespread use of sophisticated technology have diminished as technical education has become available globally and consumer and hobbyist versions of sophisticated components have proliferated. T