16 November 2023
Raytheon wins $15m four-year DARPA THREADS contract to boost RF sensors
US-based Raytheon, a business of aerospace & defense company RTX, has been awarded a four-year, $15m contract from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to increase the electronic capability of radio frequency sensors with high-power-density gallium nitride (GaN) transistors. The improved transistors will have 16 times higher output power than traditional GaN with no increase in operating temperature.
Raytheon claims to be the world’s leading manufacturer of military-grade gallium nitride which, when used in radar systems, improves range and radar resource management handling. This new prototyping work is being performed under DARPA’s program THREADS (Technologies for Heat Removal in Electronics at the Device Scale).
“Our engineers have unlocked a new way to produce gallium nitride, where thermal management is no longer a limiting factor,” says Colin Whelan, president of Advanced Technology at Raytheon. “These new system architectures will result in sensors with enhanced range.”
Raytheon is partnering with the Naval Research Laboratory, Stanford University and Diamond Foundry to grow diamond, the best thermal conductor, for integration with military-grade GaN transistors and circuits. Cornell University, Michigan State University, the University of Maryland and Penn State University are also providing technology and performance analysis.
For nearly 25 years, Raytheon has invested in gallium nitride R&D, using it in defense systems like the Patriot, LTAMDS/GhostEye family of radars, APG-79(v)4 and SPY-6 family of radars.
Work on this contract is being conducted in Andover, Massachusetts.