Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Electromagnetic Spectrum and Bandwidth

Novel concepts and technologies for maximizing use of the electromagnetic spectrum

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Dr. Jay Lewis is the Deputy Director of the Microsystems Technology Office (MTO). In this role, Dr. Lewis helps set the strategic vision for the office, recruits program managers (PMs) who are leaders in their respective fields, and provides the oversight and guidance required to empower the PMs to drive the creation of breakthrough technology for national security.
Dr. Whitney Mason joined DARPA as a Program Manager in the Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) in November 2017. Her research interests are in imaging sensors that provide multi-function capability. In particular, she is interested in novel device structures, optics, and electronics that enable a concept known as “Imaging And…”.
Since its inception in 1991, DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) has been working to create and prevent strategic surprise through investments in compact microelectronic components such as microprocessors, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and photonic devices. MTO-derived innovations and advanced capabilities in areas such as wide-band gap materials, phased-array radars, high-energy lasers, and infrared imaging have helped the United States establish and maintain technological superiority for more than two decades.

On November 6, 1959, Cornell University signed a contract with ARPA to conduct development studies for a large-scale ionospheric radar probe and how such an instrument might also serve in radioastronomy and other scientific fields. Four years later, on November 1, 1963, an inauguration ceremony was held in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, for the Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory, later to be known more generally as the Arecibo Observatory.

Its telescope "dish"—the largest in the world until 2016 with the completion in China of the FAST dish telescope—is 1,000 feet (305 meters) in diameter,  167 feet (51 meters) deep, and covers an area of approximately 20 acres (0.08 square kilometers). Development of the Arecibo facility was initially supported as part of the DEFENDER program, a broad-based missile defense program. The observatory was designed to study the structure of the upper ionosphere and its interactions with electromagnetic communications signals.

The observatory now is part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), a national research center operated by SRI International, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), and Universidad Metropolitana (UMET) through a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF). Researchers have tapped the observatory for their studies of ionospheric physics, radar and radio astronomy, aeronomy, and dynamics of the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The facility also helped NASA select lunar landing sites as well as landing sites for the Viking missions to Mars. The observatory remains in use today.

The military uses long-wave infrared (LWIR) cameras as thermal imagers to detect humans at night. These cameras are usually mounted on vehicles as they are too large to be carried by a single warfighter and are too expensive for individual deployment. However, DARPA researchers recently demonstrated a new five-micron pixel LWIR camera that could make this class of camera smaller and less expensive.