Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Size, Weight and Power Constraints

Making technologies smaller, lighter and more power-efficient to increase military effectiveness

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Computational capability is an enabler for nearly every military system, but increases in this capability are limited by available system power and constraints on the ability to dissipate heat. This is a challenge for embedded applications such as soldier-borne applications, UAVs and command and control systems on submarines. Today’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems have sensors that collect far more information than they can process in real time; as a result, what could be invaluable real-time intelligence data in the hands of our warfighters is simply discarded, or perhaps recorded and processed hours or days after it was collected.
Military logistic support has a large human cost in contested environments with no ability to create valuable materials when and where needed. DARPA’s ReSource program aims to revolutionize how the military procures critical supplies on the battlefield by engineering self-contained, integrated systems that rapidly produce large quantities of supplies from feedstock collected on-site. Envisioned on-demand products include lubricants, adhesives, tactical fibers, potable water, and edible macronutrients.
As electronic system technology advances – with continual increases in requirements leading to increasing demand for higher power consumption – there has been increasing pressure on the thermal engineering and heat rejection technologies used. DoD systems are driving conflicting needs for high performance as well as reduced size and weight. DARPA makes many investments in new technologies that can improve performance or reduce size and weight.
DoD systems are driving conflicting needs for high performance as well as reduced size and weight. Unfortunately, in many cases, the power consumption of these systems increases with each improvement. As a result, the performance of the heat rejection technology has become a dominant limitation in many applications. Over the past 40 years, CMOS, tele-communications, active sensing and imaging, and other technologies have undergone tremendous technological innovation. Over this same period, the performance of TIMs in consumer electronics and in DoD systems has undergone relatively little improvement.
Many defense semiconductor power amplifiers (PAs) and other high-power electronic and photonic components are thermally limited by the high thermal resistance of the region within 100 µm of the electronic junction, also known as the near junction region. The goal of the Near Junction Thermal Transport (NJTT) effort of the TMT program is to achieve a 3x or greater improvement in power handling from GaN power amplifiers through improved thermal management of the near junction region. This will benefit the warfighter by increasing the capability of RF systems such as Radar, communications and Electronic Warfare.