The goal is a compact and reliable amplifier module with one-watt output
power and high power added efficiency (PAE) within the frequency band of interest. As described in the
solicitation, NASA applications include SmallSat based cloud, water, and precipitation missions, similar
to the highly successful RainCube (which operated at 37.5 GHz). Compact size and power efficiency are
required for the SmallSat form factor as well as to reduce costs for the envisioned swarm mission
technology. The Phase I research included the completion of the design study for the new amplifier chip
and the demonstration of the power combining technology that is required to achieve the one-watt goal.
The deliverables include two primary items that demonstrate the feasibility of the technology. These are
the Teledyne design report showing the expected performance of the new amplifier MMIC and the
prototype amplifier module that demonstrates the four-way power combining. Although significant
challenges remain, VDI is confident that the primary solicitation goals can be achieved through Phase II
NASA applications include cloud, water, and precipitation remote sensing missions that require radar sources above 100 GHz, particularly SmallSat and CubeSat missions, as well as swarm missions. This include both Earth and planetary missions. Higher power amplifier modules will also enable higher power terahertz sources for radio astronomy local oscillators; the most relevant are astronomical measurements of molecular lines at including ~1.4, ~1.9, ~2.6, and 4.7 THz; especially for the case of large arrays with many dozens of pixels.
The SSPAs are required for a broad range of scientific an commercial applications. These include DNP-NMR and ESR systems for biology and chemistry, transmitters for 6G R&D, plasma diagnostic systems, imaging systems for security scanners. The new amplifiers can also be paired with high power frequency multipliers to create more powerful and efficient sources throughout the 300 - 5,000 GHz range.