Researchers Win Nearly $1 Million in Defense Grants for Equipment

Kenneth O

Dr. Kenneth O

Two grants totaling nearly $1 million won by researchers in the Texas Analog Center of Excellence (TxACE) will lower the hurdle for research and development in high frequency integrated circuit design.

Each year researchers throughout the country compete in the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) for funds for instrumentation needed to carry out high-quality, cutting-edge research of interest to U.S. defense.

Last year, Dr. Kenneth O, professor of electrical engineering and director of TxACE, and Dr. Rashaunda Henderson, assistant professor of electrical engineering and a TxACE member, successfully competed against more than 500 researchers to receive funding. The measurement systems are expected to be available for use this fall.

TxACE is the largest University-based analog center in the world, and has garnered a reputation as a leader for work in extremely high frequency radio waves — those that reach the millimeter wave range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

“TxACE has the best electronics lab in the world in terms of the quality of our work, and number of investigators and international research collaborations,” said O, holder of the Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair and faculty member in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. “The DURIP awards allow us to continue to expand and improve our capabilities to better serve the research and development communities.”

O and co-principal investigator Dr. Wooyeol Choi, an assistant research professor in TxACE, secured nearly $641,000 from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to optimize the efficiency of high frequency-powered amplifiers. Their multiple harmonic hybrid load pull system will allow users to shape waveforms created by amplifiers to more efficiently use power. Their equipment will cover frequencies up to 67 gigahertz.

Rashaunda Henderson

Dr. Rashaunda Henderson

“I do not think there is anything like this in the world that can cover energy frequencies up to the third-order harmonic,” O said. “I really hope this will help accelerate realization of high frequency circuits for both Department of Defense and commercial applications.”

Henderson won about $324,000 from the Office of Naval Research to build a millimeter wave antenna far-field measurement system. This system will operate up to 300 gigahertz. Currently, antenna ranges of about 100 gigahertz are considered unique.

“This is a critical piece of instrumentation needed throughout the world to exploit the millimeter band,” Henderson said.

Steve Nelson, vice president of IC Design at Cobham Defense Electronics, said they garnered the awards in part because of the trust and respect that TxACE members had earned from prior demonstrations to program managers and engineers using their existing instrumentation systems. These systems require the manufacture of several pieces of equipment that work together to reach maximum capabilities.

The instrumentation will be available to all TxACE members, as well as outside industrial users.

“The DURIP award provides critical infrastructure for the entire research and industry community,” O said. “These systems will allow us to improve the efficiency of circuits that can operate over large frequency ranges and optimize and mold how an antenna radiates at high frequencies. That in one year we won two grants to support this kind of groundbreaking work is amazing.”

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