receivers transmitters antennas | Military space travel

ARLINGTON, Va. – RF and microwave experts at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts, are joining a U.S. military research project to develop small RF receivers, transmitters and antennas for RF and microwave applications in space-constrained sensors and communications.

Officials at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Virginia, announced in May a $4.5 million contract to Draper Lab for the Macaroni Project to develop small RF receivers and transmitters. Details of the project are confidential.

Draper Lab joins SRI International in Menlo Park, California, for the Macaroni program. SRI won a $16.8 million contract for the project in April.

DARPA asks Draper Lab and SRI engineers to develop RF and microwave components that should not only exceed the current state of the art, but also attempt to overcome the long-standing design limitations of the so-called Chu Limit, which limits the bandwidth of data limited, to overcome. can be sent and received via small antennas.

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Measuring and monitoring the electromagnetic spectrum is an important area of ​​research according to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Spectrum dominance requires rapid and efficient control of electromagnetic radiation from DC to the X-ray regime.

The main Macaroni project challenge facing SRI and Draper concerns receivers and transmitters that are much smaller than the wavelength of the electromagnetic radiation sent and received.

In classical antenna theory, the sensitivity-bandwidth product is fundamentally limited by the shape and size of the antenna. This performance decreases significantly as the antenna size becomes much smaller than the electromagnetic operating wavelength.

Yet size, weight, and power (SWaP) applications are driving efforts to go beyond traditional limitations, and developing efficient, electrically small antennas is still a challenge.

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Recent developments in quantum sensors, materials science, electromagnetic shielding, laser technology, resonators, cryogenic systems and vacuum components have advanced the state of the art in sensing technologies. As these enabling technologies improve, a greater variety of protocols and methodologies become possible and previous views on performance limits require validation, researchers say.

For transmitters, new insights into active antenna technology, control schemes, impedance matching methods and volume filling strategies also offer new opportunities. Recent efforts in piezoelectricity, magnetoelectricity, high-index materials, and multiferroic materials can be leveraged to improve the efficiency trading space for small antennas.

DARPA researchers are asking SRI and Draper for transmit and receive technologies that can deliver performance beyond the Chu limit and integrate electrical and magnetic technologies – especially in solutions that minimize antenna size relative to the operational wavelength.

Related: SRI International to Conduct High-Power RF and Microwave Experiments for Space with a Stanford Dish Antenna

The Macaroni program is a three-phase, 45-month program with a first phase of 18 months, a second phase of 18 months and a third phase of nine months. The project focuses on two technical areas: receivers and transmitters.

SRI and Draper will focus on receiver work involving receive sensitivity, link closure and system integration. The company’s transmitter work will focus on transmitter strength, demonstrating a transmitter system and system robustness.

For more information, contact the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory online at, SRI International online at, or DARPA at