Northrop researches more efficient radio frequency technology for DARPA

Under a DARPA program, Northrop Grumman will conduct research to develop innovative RF power amplifier designs.

Northrop Grumman Corp. will work with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop more efficient radio frequency transmitter technology under a three-year contract worth $8.9 million.

Under DARPA’s Microscale Power Conversion program Northrop Grumman will conduct research on high-efficiency transmitters with gallium nitride Class E power amplifiers, the company announced Dec. 2.

The objective is to develop innovative RF power amplifier designs that incorporate what are known as supply modulation and control, facilitated by new power switch technology. When supply modulation and contour modulation are working in concert, the dynamic range and efficiency of the power amplifier can be further improved.

"With more innovative RF power amplifier designs, we can produce much more efficient RF transmitters without increasing their size," said Pat Antkowiak, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman's Advanced Concepts and Technologies Division.

"This technique can open the door to creating more powerful electronic systems for a wide variety of applications," he explained in the announcement.

The design work will be performed by Northrop Grumman and its subcontractors, the University of California at Los Angeles and TriQuint Semiconductor.

Northrop Grumman will prepare the final integration and demonstration at Linthicum, Md.

Northrop Grumman Corp., of Falls Church, Va., and Los Angeles, ranks No. 2 on Washington Technology’s 2011 Top 100 list of the largest federal government contractors.