DARPA awards $12m contract to BAE Systems for THREADS program


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a $12 million contract to BAE Systems’ FAST Labs research and development organization. This contract is part of the Technologies for Heat Removal in Electronics at the Device Scale (THREADS) program. The program aims to address thermal management challenges at the transistor scale, particularly for power-amplifying functions in monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs).

THREADS Program Objectives and Significance

The DARPA THREADS program focuses on developing new materials and approaches to manage heat dissipation in gallium nitride (GaN) devices. These devices are critical for radio frequency (RF) electronics in military systems. Historically, these systems have operated below their theoretical power limits due to overheating issues.

Enhancing RF-Based Systems

Solving the thermal management challenge will significantly enhance the performance of RF-based systems. This improvement could increase the operational range of such systems by nearly threefold, providing greater engagement distances and enhanced safety for warfighters.

DARPA awards $12M contract to BAE Systems for the THREADS program, addressing thermal management in RF electronics.

DARPA awards $12M contract to BAE Systems for the THREADS program, addressing thermal management in RF electronics.

Partnerships and Contributions

BAE Systems will collaborate with several institutions, including Modern Microsystems, Penn State University, Stanford University, University of Notre Dame, and the University of Texas at Dallas. These partnerships will bring together expertise in material science and microelectronics to address the thermal challenges.

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BAE Systems’ Role and Capabilities

Caprice Gray, Director of Device Materials and Manufacturing Research at BAE Systems’ FAST Labs, emphasized the significance of overcoming excessive heat in electronics. “With material and process enhancements, we are on the verge of overcoming this challenge and doing so will unleash the hidden potential in mission-critical electronic warfare and other RF-based systems,” said Gray.

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Manufacturing and Development

BAE Systems will leverage its Microelectronics Center (MEC) in Nashua, New Hampshire, for this program. The MEC is an accredited DoD Category 1A Trusted Supplier and specializes in manufacturing GaN and gallium arsenide integrated circuits for critical Department of Defense programs. The center’s expertise in advanced microelectronics will be pivotal in achieving the objectives of the THREADS program.

Impact on Military Operations

The successful implementation of the THREADS program will have far-reaching implications for military systems. By enhancing the thermal management of GaN devices, the program will improve the reliability and efficiency of RF-based systems, leading to better performance in electronic warfare and other critical applications.

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Regulatory and Compliance Information

BAE Systems and its partners will adhere to all regulatory requirements and guidelines set forth by DARPA and other relevant authorities throughout the duration of the THREADS program. Stakeholders are encouraged to follow updates on the progress and developments of this significant initiative.

The $12 million contract awarded to BAE Systems’ FAST Labs for the THREADS program represents a significant step towards overcoming thermal management challenges in RF electronics. Through innovative materials and approaches, BAE Systems and its partners aim to unlock the full potential of GaN devices, enhancing the performance and safety of military systems.

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