Semiconductors & ICs

VLSI Microsystem for Rapid Bioinformatic Pattern Recognition

Rapid processing is made possible by a massively parallel neural-computing architecture. A system comprising very-large-scale integrated (VLSI) circuits is being developed as a means of bioinformatics-oriented analysis and recognition of patterns of fluorescence generated in a microarray in an advanced, highly miniaturized, portable genetic-expression- assay instrument. Such an instrument implements an on-chip combination of polymerase chain reactions and electrochemical transduction for amplification and detection of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

Posted in: Semiconductors & ICs, Briefs, TSP

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Low-Noise Amplifier for 100 to 180 GHz

Noise temperature is lower than in the prior state of the art. A three-stage monolithic millimeter-wave integrated-circuit (MMIC) amplifier designed to exhibit low noise in operation at frequencies from about 100 to somewhat above 180 GHz has been built and tested. This is a prototype of broadband amplifiers that have potential utility in diverse applications, including measurement of atmospheric temperature and humidity and millimeter-wave imaging for inspecting contents of opaque containers.

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T/R Multi-Chip MMIC Modules for 150 GHz

A transmitting gain of 14 dB at 150 GHz has been demonstrated. Modules containing multiple monolithic microwave integrated-circuit (MMIC) chips have been built as prototypes of transmitting/receiving (T/R) modules for millimeter-wavelength radar systems, including phased-array radar systems to be used for diverse purposes that could include guidance and avoidance of hazards for landing spacecraft, imaging systems for detecting hidden weapons, and hazard-avoidance systems for automobiles. Whereas prior landing radar systems have operated at frequencies around 35 GHz, the integrated circuits in this module operate in a frequency band centered at about 150 GHz. The higher frequency (and, hence, shorter wavelength), is expected to make it possible to obtain finer spatial resolution while also using smaller antennas and thereby reducing the sizes and masses of the affected systems.

Posted in: Semiconductors & ICs, Briefs, TSP

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Some Improvements in Utilization of Flash Memory Devices

Two developments improve the utilization of flash memory devices in the face of the following limitations: (1) a flash write element (page) differs in size from a flash erase element (block), (2) a block must be erased before its is rewritten, (3) lifetime of a flash memory is typically limited to about 1,000,000 erases, (4) as many as 2 percent of the blocks of a given device may fail before the expected end of its life, and (5) to ensure reliability of reading and writing, power must not be interrupted during minimum specified reading and writing times.

Posted in: Briefs

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GPS/MEMS IMU/Microprocessor Board for Navigation

A miniaturized instrumentation package comprising a (1) Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, (2) an inertial measurement unit (IMU) consisting largely of surface-micromachined sensors of the microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS) type, and (3) a microprocessor, all residing on a single circuit board, is part of the navigation system of a compact robotic spacecraft intended to be released from a larger spacecraft [e.g., the International Space Station (ISS)] for exterior visual inspection of the larger spacecraft. Variants of the package may also be useful in terrestrial collision-detection and -avoidance applications.

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InP Heterojunction Bipolar Transistor Amplifiers to 255 GHz

These amplifiers can be used in millimeter-wave imaging systems for weapons detection and airport security, and for radar instruments. Two single-stage InP heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT) amplifiers operate at 184 and 255 GHz, using Northrop Grumman Corporation’s InP HBT MMIC (monolithic microwave integrated circuit) technology. At the time of this reporting, these are reported to be the highest HBT amplifiers ever created. The purpose of the amplifier design is to evaluate the technology capability for high-frequency designs and verify the model for future development work.

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Submillimeter-Wave Amplifier Module With Integrated Waveguide Transitions

This technique can be used in submillimeter-wave imaging in homeland security, weapons detection, and commercial test equipment. To increase the usefulness of monolithic millimeter-wave integrated circuit (MMIC) components at submillimeter-wave frequencies, a chip has been designed that incorporates two integrated, radial E-plane probes with an MMIC amplifier in between, thus creating a fully integrated waveguide module. The integrated amplifier chip has been fabricated in 35-nm gate length InP high-electron-mobility-transistor (HEMT) technology. The radial probes were mated to grounded coplanar waveguide input and output lines in the internal amplifier. The total length of the internal HEMT amplifier is 550 μm, while the total integrated chip length is 1,085 μm. The chip thickness is 50 μm with the chip width being 320 μm.

Posted in: Semiconductors & ICs, Briefs, TSP

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