HRL to Develop Innovative Graphene-Based Electronics to Bring Higher Speed and Lower Cost to Military Systems

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HRL Laboratories, LLC, will apply its world-class research-and-development capabilities to create a new generation of carbon-based, radio-frequency (RF) integrated circuits as part of the Carbon Electronics for RF Applications, or CERA, program. The work, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), will exploit the unique qualities of graphene carbon-based RF technology to create a new generation of components that will enable unprecedented capabilities in high-bandwidth communications, imaging, and radar systems.

HRL Laboratories, LLC, will apply its world-class research-and-development capabilities to create a new generation of carbon-based, radio-frequency (RF) integrated circuits as part of the Carbon Electronics for RF Applications, or CERA, program. The work, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), will exploit the unique qualities of graphene carbon-based RF technology to create a new generation of components that will enable unprecedented capabilities in high-bandwidth communications, imaging, and radar systems.

Under the management of the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) in San Diego, Calif., HRL will collaborate with a group of university, commercial and military research centers on the proposed 51-month program, which will consist of three phases to develop graphene-based RF circuits for ultra-high-speed, ultra-low-power applications.

"Graphene is a highly interesting material, and a technology based on a graphene-on-Silicon platform could revolutionize a number of military applications because of its high performance, scalability, integration, and low cost," said Dr. Jeong-sun Moon, Senior Research Scientist with the Microelectronics Laboratory at HRL. "This new generation of transistors will provide the military community with better than state-of-the-art radio frequency (RF) components that have unprecedented capabilities."

The development of sophisticated military imaging systems and high-bandwidth communications systems has been hampered by RF component cost, limited resolution, and high power dissipation. By exploiting the unique qualities of graphene, the HRL team proposes to change the way these systems are developed and powered at the integrated circuit level.

As the fourth most abundant element in the universe, carbon exists in myriad forms, each with its own characteristics. Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms densely packed in a honeycomb crystalline lattice configuration--like chicken wire on an atomic scale. The advantages of this configuration are its high current-carrying capacity, excellent thermal conductivity, and low-voltage operational potential.

The team proposes to "grow" an organized layer of graphene carbon crystals on silicon-based wafers to create more efficient, scalable, and cheaper-to-manufacture transistors. During the first phase of the program, HRL will perform "graphene synthesis" using an innovative carbon molecular-beam epitaxy process developed by HRL to deposit the single crystalline layer of graphene carbon onto silicon substrate. The following two phases of the project will fabricate field-effect transistors on 100-mm wafers and then scale up the process to 200-mm.

HRL Laboratories, LLC, Malibu, California (http://www.hrl.com) is a corporate research-and-development laboratory owned by The Boeing Company and General Motors. HRL provides custom research and development and performs additional R&D contract services for its LLC member companies, the U.S. government, and other commercial companies.

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Michele Durant
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