Maintaining technological superiority over potential adversaries is an ongoing challenge for the U.S. Department of Defense – today more than ever. It's a challenge that requires innovation now, not just sometime. BAE Systems' FAST Labs™ focuses on accelerating innovation of advanced technologies for America’s defense community, and our Defense Electronics R&D unit applies that focus to electronics, optics, and advanced materials to create multi-function systems.
Our Defense Electronics R&D unit's current areas of focus are described below. While some may appear concerned with advancing one particular component, a key goal of this unit is to advance electronics in ways that escalate tasks across multiple technologies, optics that improve sensory capabilities in current and future platforms, and advanced materials that boost SWaP-C measures in every component they are used to build.
Continue below to learn more.
Focus areas of Defense Electronics R&D
Mixed-Signal, Multifunctional RF Chips (MATRICs™ Transceiver)
The MATRICs™ Transceiver is a fourth generation, wideband multichannel transceiver that transmits and receives on multiple channels simultaneously, and has an easily-adaptable IC infrastructure to address demands of communications, electronic warfare, and signal intelligence systems both now and in the future. It also delivers higher performance than any chip available commercially, including instantaneous bandwidth of 10 MHz to 4 GHz, a significantly broader frequency range, and it covers a broad range of radio waveforms.
Because this systems-on-a-chip design can handle multiple missions – from comms and EW to ISR, radar, and more – with one system across a range of platforms, implementation times are accelerated and costs are kept low. In fact, engineers can even reprogram this highly adaptable chip on the fly to create custom radio systems in the field, with no need for application-specific chips that make development more expensive and time consuming. Plus, the reduced size, weight, and power use of the MATRICs™ Transceiver make it ideal for applications where light weight and low power are at a premium.
The MATRICs™ Transceiver is available as a kit that your team can implement or you can have our experienced RF engineers – the same ones who invented it – customize your chips for your applications, platforms, and networks. Learn more at baesystems.com/MATRICs.
The Power Electronics specialists in our FAST Labs™ Defense Electronics R&D unit develop advanced, high power Radio Frequency (RF) transistors and integrated circuits that amplify microwave/millimeter wave radio signals. These circuits are specially designed to operate in harsh conditions and are integrated into transmitter assemblies supporting a range of applications, including radar, communications, electronic warfare (EW) systems, and more.
These cutting edge solid state transmitters are developed using GaN (Gallium Nitride) material, a wide band gap material that enables high voltage operation leading to ~5X more power density than GaAs (Gallium Arsenide), the preceding generation technology.
GaAs and GaN Foundry Services
Classic silicon-based (SiC) circuit design has limitations that can inhibit innovation. BAE Systems' Microelectronics R&D Center in Nashua, New Hampshire develops DoD-accredited Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMIC) using GaAs and GaN advanced materials with a proprietary epitaxial substrate that do not have silicon's limitations, but instead offer a technological edge that includes industry-leading performance.
Built to enable advanced EW transmitter systems, our discriminating GaN on SiC (Silicon Carbide) devices and circuits go far beyond what is available commercially. The current production process is at a 180nm node and is processed on 4" diameter wafers. A 6" GaN on SiC wafer that will provide a >2X reduction in $/mm2 is in development and is expected to complete process qualification in 2020. Advanced process 140nm and 90nm nodes are also now in development that will improve device performance and extend operation to W-band.
As a world leader in this technology, we provide GaAs and GaN Foundry Services to the U.S. defense community, offering our technologies and expertise, including opportunities for clients to design their own circuits with discriminating performance, then have them produced right there in our state-of-the-art foundry.
Learn more about our foundry services now at baesystems.com/foundry.
Digital Phased Arrays
The central mission of our advanced FAST Labs™ Digital Phased Array (DPA) team is to provide defense community clients with the performance and versatility they need to complete missions successfully, while adapting to real time mission changes as events progress. Our core Digital Phased Array developments are driven by mission directives, in both open and contested environments. Toward this, our DPA team is embedded in the electronic warfare (EW) systems division and continuously collaborates with prospective beneficiaries of the technology – both internally and externally – to ensure that these technologies are relevant and discriminating.
How do we accomplish these goals? Our RF-converged Digital Phased Arrays use a digitizer at every element, enabling software-defined multifunction capabilities that can be rapidly switched and reconfigured, and sharing of data between multiple beams across multiple RF functions.
A good example is our ORCHESTRA multi-function phased array, which integrates multiple RF capabilities on a DPA payload in an ultra-low SWaP application. With heterogeneous digital signal processing, the array performs multiple simultaneous functions, for unparalleled aperture flexibility and greater operational scalability.
To learn more, including examples that are specific to your department and its objectives, start a conversation with our Digital Phased Array Coordinator.
Digital Read-Out Integrated Circuits (DROICs)
Achieving cutting edge SWaP-C microelectronics for a broad range of defense, intelligence, and commercial applications requires alignment of several integral assets, and high performance Digital Read-Out Integrated Circuits (DROICs) are high on that list.
Unlike conventional ROIC analog technology, DROICs feature on-chip signal processing, digitizing in each pixel during integration, which:
- Enables new designs with simultaneous high sensitivity, low noise, and deep charge wells – that performance is not possible in analog ROICs
- Allows a sensor to provide processed information to the system, so it's available immediately and requires no or less post-processing
FAST Labs has become a thought leader in DROIC design, trusted by DARPA, combining our mastery of high-speed digital design, our EO/IR system expertise, and the ROIC design experience of BAE's Survivability, Targeting & Sensing Solutions (STS) group.
Among its many uses, we are now employing DROICs to develop revolutionary mission performance applications for EO/IR sensing technologies, both active and passive. They will also be used to infuse key STS and C4ISR products with revolutionary discriminators.
Our FAST Labs Defense Electronics R&D team welcomes collaboration with industry and academic innovators on current or future projects. If you wish to learn more or are interested in participating with our team, contact us here.
Life at BAE Systems
BAE Systems' FAST Labs Defense Electronics R&D unit is a great place to work for those who want a challenging, rewarding career while also helping protect those who protect us. Whether you are an experienced professional or a talented college senior or graduate student with a degree in science, physics, or electrical engineering, click here for our current job listings, or contact our Advanced Electronics Coordinator.