This proposal is responsive to NASA SBIR Subtopic S1.02: Technologies for Active Microwave Remote Sensing; specifically the item titled “1 Watt G-band (167-175 GHz) Solid State Power Amplifier for Remote Sensing Radars.” The technical goal is a compact and reliable amplifier module with one-watt of output power and 20% power added efficiency (PAE) at the stated frequency band of interest. As described in the solicitation, the 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 and also to reduce costs for the envisioned swarm mission technology. The Phase I research includes the completion of the simulation and design study for the new amplifier chip and the demonstration of the waveguide power combining technology that will be required to achieve the one-watt goal without sacrificing significant PAE. The deliverable results will include two primary items that should prove the feasibility of the technology. These are the design report from that states the expected performance of the new amplifier MMIC and the delivery of a prototype amplifier module operating at the frequency band of interest that utilizes the four-way power combining with sufficient efficiency to meet the NASA goals.
NASA applications include cloud, water, and precipitation missions that require radar sources above 100 GHz, particularly SmallSat and CubeSat missions, as well as swarm missions. Higher power amplifier modules will also enable higher power terahertz sources for radio astronomy local oscillators; 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.
More powerful and efficient amplifier modules, coupled with frequency multiplier with greater power handling ability, will benefit the entire terahertz community. Applications include dynamic nuclear polarization enhanced nuclear magnetic resonance, electron paramagnetic resonance, plasma diagnostics, imaging radars and higher frequency test & measurement equipment.