Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Novel Sensing and Detection

Novel concepts and devices capable of detecting and monitoring physical phenomena

Showing 10 results for Sensors + Microsystems RSS
For many years beginning in 1994, DARPA provided substantial funding in the then emergent arena of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMs). With lineage in microelectronics technology, MEMs researchers cleverly adapted standard semiconductor-fabrication methods to fabricate miniature mechanical structures such as flexible membranes, cantilevers, and even trains of interdigitated gears, and integrated these with electronics to create a menagerie of MEM systems. Among the target deliverables for the DoD were inertial navigation devices for smartening up weapons and tracking soldiers, miniaturized “laboratories on a chip” for such uses as detecting biological weapons in the field, and optical switches and displays. DARPA’s patient support is widely credited with adding consequential momentum to the field of MEMs, which since has blossomed into a multi-billion dollar market in the military and civilian sectors.
Find a way to replace a large, heavy and expensive technology with an equivalent one that’s a lot smaller, lighter and cheaper and you have a shot at turning a boutique technology into a world changer. Think of the room-sized computers of the 1940s that now are outpowered by the run-of-the-mill central processing unit in laptop computers. Or the miniaturized GPS components that contribute geolocation smartness in cell phones. DARPA program manager Joshua Conway has another shrinking act in mind: packing the light-catching powers of bulky lens-filled telescopes onto flat, semiconductor wafers that are saucer-sized or smaller, featherweight and cheap to make.
Picture a sensor pixel about the size of a red blood cell. Now envision a million of these pixels—a megapixel’s worth—in an array that covers a thumbnail. Take one more mental trip: dive down onto the surface of the semiconductor hosting all of these pixels and marvel at each pixel’s associated tech-mesh of more than 1,000 integrated transistors, which provide each and every pixel with a tiny reprogrammable brain of its own. That is the vision for DARPA’s new Reconfigurable Imaging (ReImagine) program.
DARPA published its Young Faculty Award (YFA) 2018 Research Announcement today, seeking proposals in 26 different topic areas—the largest number of YFA research areas ever solicited.
Advances in digital microelectronics have enabled indispensable capabilities for the Department of Defense (DoD) in the fields of information processing, sensors, and communications. Increasingly, system performance in these domains is constrained not by the limits of computation at individual chips, but rather by the electrical data movement between them. The energy efficiency and data bandwidth of electrical interconnects between integrated circuits (ICs) has failed to keep pace with improvements in transistor technology. To address this challenge, DARPA developed the Photonics in the Package for Extreme Scalability (PIPES) program, which aims to expand the use of optical signaling for data transfer and place high-bandwidth photonics within the package of application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).