Sunday, January 4, 2015

Army STTR--Terahertz Nano-Radio Platform with Integrated Antenna and Power source

Terahertz Nano-Radio Platform with Integrated Antenna and Power source
Army STTR 2015.A - Topic A15A-T005 
Opens: January 15, 2015 -  Closes: February 18, 2015

A15A-T005 TITLE: Terahertz Nano-Radio Platform with Integrated Antenna and Power source

OBJECTIVE: To develop a nano-radio platform at terahertz frequencies with integrated antenna and power source.
DESCRIPTION: Integrated radio circuits and systems are indispensable for wireless sensor networks, implantable medical sensors, autonomous micro robots, tracking and remote control of insects, chip-to-chip links, etc. In these applications, it is essential to reduce the radio dimension as much as possible. For example, in the battlefield assessment, the small radio footprint makes the wireless sensor network harder to detect. In a different application, very low-power, small and light weighted radio can be placed on insects to remotely control motion of insects by electrically stimulating their nervous system and to understand how insects perform navigation. Insect-based wireless network connected in an ad hoc topology where insects equipped with miniature wireless sensors act as sensor nodes is also potentially realizable.

Past projects in radio miniaturization have targeted total system size of one cubic millimeter (10^-9 cubic meter) [1, 2]. Since most of these systems are designed to operate at microwave frequencies, the sizes of radio systems and therefore their antennas are significantly smaller than the wavelengths of the electromagnetic waves. Because of the antenna constraint, the range of these miniature radio systems is limited to only a few millimeters.
With the scaling of the CMOS integrated electronic technology, the transistor size is reduced by half every two years. In digital area, this has been successfully translated to the miniaturization of computational devices and increasing transistor count per die. On analog side, the cutoff frequency of state-of-the-art CMOS processes is approximately 500 GHz and expected to approach 1 THz by 2018. As a result, chip-scale THz sources and phased-arrays with integrated antennas based on CMOS technology have been demonstrated at 500 GHz and higher [3,4] and will surely be pushed to even higher frequencies. Integrated CMOS radio systems are also being explored at similar frequencies.
Radio system implemented at terahertz frequencies (300 GHz-3 THz) can dramatically reduce circuit chip and antenna size. THz frequencies also offer the advantage of improved radiation directivity and therefore increase range of the radio. By utilizing current development of THz CMOS technology, this R&D effort will develop a chip-scale THz nano-radio platform with bi-directional transmit/receive capability. The total size of proposed solution should be less than 10^-11 cubic meter including antenna and power source. Its operating range should be greater than 1 meter, its data rate greater than 200 kilobits per second, and power consumption less than 15 microwatts. The proposed solution should also explore networking of these systems to improve data throughput and achieve collaborative sensing and computation.
PHASE I: Perform trade study between system size, architecture, operating frequency, antenna structure, range, modulation format, data rate, power consumption, etc. Develop system level model of transmitter and receiver based on optimized parameters selected from the trade study. The system modeling should include choice of suitable power source or energy harvest techniques. Develop initial circuit implement and antenna design of the radio system. Phase I study should determine the feasibility of developing a THz nano-radio with an overall size of 10^-11 cubic meters based on current nano-CMOS technology.
PHASE II: Design and fabricate a complete nano-radio system at a desired frequency determined from Phase I including transmitter/receiver, antenna structure, and power source. The nano-radio must satisfy the requirements described earlier in size (10^-11 cubic meters), range (1 meter), power (15 microwatts) and data rate (200 Kbits). Demonstrate communication between a nano-radio node and an external node. The nano-radio node should be a standalone system without external wiring and the demonstration should clearly verify correct information is transmitted and received by the radio nodes. Develop a scheme to network multiple nano-radio nodes. The demonstration will initially use two nano-radio nodes, but eventually be scaled to at least 4 nodes. The networking scheme must also provide a path for scaling to a large number of nodes.
PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: It is expected that these nano-radio systems will have applications in wide ranges of wireless sensor networks and micro autonomous systems. Phase III work will develop self-assembled and reconfigurable network architectures to connect many of these nano-radio nodes. These networked THz nano-radio nodes can be incorporated into current Army and DoD programs in sensor networks and micro autonomous systems integrated with sensing, computation and navigation capabilities to enable stealth and collaborative information gathering in adverse and hostile battlefield environments to achieve enhanced situational awareness for the Soldiers. Low fabrication cost of CMOS technology also means THz nano-radio technology can easily be transitioned for commercial applications where many inexpensive communicating nodes are required, e.g. Internet of Things.
3. O. Momeni and E. Afshari, "High Power Terahertz and Sub-millimeter-Wave Oscillator Design: A Systematic Approach," IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, vol. 46, no. 3, pp. 583-597, March 2011.
4. R. Han and E. Afshari, "A High-Power Broadband Passive Terahertz Frequency Doubler in CMOS," IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, vol. 61, no. 3, pp. 1150-1160, March 2013.
KEYWORDS: terahertz communications, sensor network, micro autonomous system, CMOS technology, integrated circuit, nano-radio
TPOC: Dr. Joe Qiu
Phone: (919) 549-4297

DoD Notice:   Between December 12, 2014 and January 14, 2015 you may talk directly with the Topic Authors (TPOC) to ask technical questions about the topics. Their contact information is listed above. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is not allowed starting January 15, 2015 , when DoD begins accepting proposals for this solicitation.
However, proposers may still submit written questions about solicitation topics through the DoD's SBIR/STTR Interactive Topic Information System (SITIS), in which the questioner and respondent remain anonymous and all questions and answers are posted electronically for general viewing until the solicitation closes. All proposers are advised to monitor SITIS (15.A Q&A) during the solicitation period for questions and answers, and other significant information, relevant to the STTR 15.A topic under which they are proposing.If you have general questions about DoD STTR program, please contact the DoD SBIR/STTR Help Desk at (866) 724-7457 or webmail link.

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