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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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.
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. The need for performance inevitably leads to operation of most electronic systems at the limits of the available thermal management technology.
Imaging, radar, spectroscopy, and communications systems that operate in the millimeter-wave (MMW) and sub-MMW bands of the electromagnetic spectrum have been difficult to develop because of technical challenges associated with generating, detecting, processing and radiating the high-frequency signals associated with these wavelengths.
Conventional military radio frequency (RF) antenna systems typically employ coaxial cable as the signal conduit between the aperture and the transmit/receive electronics. For long cable lengths, high RF frequencies and wide bandwidths, the cable itself is a key limiter of signal fidelity and link efficiency. Coaxial cable bundles are also large and heavy, a critical drawback for mobile platforms. Photonic technologies, however, may provide low loss, reduced size and weight, immunity to electromagnetic interference, broad bandwidth and overall ability to remote antennas over distances not possible with conventional electronic approaches.