Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit Technology

Inducted In: 2003, Communications Technology

Induction year:
Inducted individuals:
Dr. Barry Allen
Dr. Michael Barsky
Dr. Thomas Block
Eliot Cohen
Dr. James Fraser
Dr. Augusto Gutierrez-Aitken
Mark Kintis
Dr. Richard Lai
Dr. Po-Hsin Liu
Aaron Oki
Bert Oyama
Elissa Sobolewski
Dr. Dwight Streit
Donald Umemoto
Dr. Michael Wojtowicz
Inducted organizations:
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Northrop Grumman

In the 1980s, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiated a major effort to develop solid-state microwave integrated circuits to replace the tubes, cavities and discrete devices used in microwave radar and telecommunication systems. New advances in semiconductor materials and processing enabled the development of Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit (MMIC) Technology.

Under a DARPA contract, Northrop Grumman Corporation (formerly TRW) successfully produced Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) MMICs using not only High Electron Mobility Transistors (HEMT) but also the first manufacturable Heterojunction Bipolar Transistors (HBT). This new GaAs MMIC technology was incorporated into various space applications and became NASA’s and the Defense Department chosen technology for advanced telecommunication systems. Following a “dual use” approach, Northrop Grumman transformed the technology for use in cellular-phone power amplifiers. A Northrop Grumman division was the the world’s leading supplier of these power amplifiers. Northrop Grumman continues its MMIC technology development and has successfully produced Indium Phosphide (InP) based MMICs.

These advances in technology enable chip operations that are four to ten times faster than the previous MMIC technology and require less power. NASA and the Defense Department are using state of the art MMIC technology in new telecommunication and imaging systems. New commercial applications such as vehicle collision warning systems have been developed.

Related Technologies

Audio Conference Bridge Technology

Audio Conference Bridge Technology

Inducted In: Communications Technology, Featured

Compunetix was founded in 1968 as a small contract-services technology provider. In 1987, they won a contract to deliver a digital voice switching system for NASA that would accommodate the agency’s wide range of communication needs. At the time, NASA’s…

Traveling-Wave Tube Amplifier

Traveling-Wave Tube Amplifier

Inducted In: Communications Technology, Computer Technology, Featured

First developed in the 1930s, Traveling-Wave Tube Amplifiers (TWTAs) were designed to amplify radio frequency signals. It was in the early 1960s that NASA and L3 teamed up to evolve the technology so it would meet the transmission needs of…

Ka-Band Software-Defined Radio (SDR)/Harris AppSTAR™ Architecture

Ka-Band Software-Defined Radio (SDR)/Harris AppSTAR™ Architecture

Inducted In: Communications Technology, Featured

Communication devices, such as smart phones and radios, rely on electromagnetic spectrum, particularly the “S-band” portion to transmit data. Given the growing use of these technologies, the S-band has become congested with many users. This is a challenge for space…