Emerging Technology

DARPA's micro-tech office returns to its roots

DARPA MTO

With bio-engineering projects now handled by a dedicated office, DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office is looking at spectrum use and extending Moore's Law.

After spinning out a number of biotechnology-based research programs, the Defense Department's Microsystems Technology Office is returning to its quest to advance cutting-edge communications and computing technologies.

Some of the Microsystems Technology Office's recent programs had been centered "at the intersection of biology and engineering," researching development of neural-interface and bio-manufacturing technologies, and other biological research-based efforts. But those are now overseen by the agency's new Biological Technologies Office.

MTO's to-do list

According to recent FedBizOps announcements, MTO's areas of current interest include the following topics:

  • Emerging MEMs technologies
  • Energy-efficient computing
  • Non-silicon electronics
  • Novel photonic devices
  • Quantum devices
  • Hardware assurance, reliability and validation
  • Low-volume microsystems manufacturing
  • Signal processing hardware
  • Low-power electronics
  • Thermal management
  • Advanced imaging architectures
  • Photonic & electronic interconnects
  • Microsystem design and CAD
  • Chip scale sensors
  • Microsystems for directed energy
  • Microsystems for precision navigation and timing
  • Microsystems for RF/optical transceivers

That clears the way for the MTO, a component of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which has historically worked to develop compact microelectronic components such as microprocessors, microelectromechanical systems and photonic devices that have gone into advanced imaging and computing systems, to return to its roots.

DARPA also noted that the increasing commercialization of advanced technologies has made military systems more affordable, but has also allowed advanced electronics to proliferate in the global environment. That wider access, it said, has blunted the U.S. strategic advantage, and means a renewed focus on "leap-ahead technologies" is needed to keep the U.S. edge.

"MTO's goal is to enable a whole new class of technology-driven capabilities for national security, as opposed to creating a single end-point solution," said Bill Chappell, MTO's acting office director and deputy director in the statement.

The agency has issued a number of broad inquiries to industry in the last few months via FedBizOpps looking for help with a list of computing research areas.

The agency's May 28 statement said it also wants to explore how to more effectively use congested electromagnetic spectrum and address the end of Moore's Law (the exponential growth of computing power which has historically roughly doubled every two years) -- to find affordable computing and communications solutions in an increasingly globalized, but financially constrained environment.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

  • Shutterstock image.

    Merged IT modernization bill punts on funding

    A House panel approved a new IT modernization bill that appears poised to pass, but key funding questions are left for appropriators.

  • General Frost

    Army wants cyber capability everywhere

    The Army's cyber director said cyber, electronic warfare and information operations must be integrated into warfighters' doctrine and training.

  • Rising Star 2013

    Meet the 2016 Rising Stars

    FCW honors 30 early-career leaders in federal IT.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group