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US boffins claim record for fast integrated circuit

Ultra-wideband comms, super hi-res spy beams foretold

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Boffins working for US aerospace'n'death-tech mammoth Northrop Grumman claim to have produced the fastest known integrated circuit in the world.

According to company spokesmen, top brains toiling at the company's Simon Ramo Microelectronics Center in California have produced a "Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit (TMIC)" operating at 0.67 terahertz (THz), or 0.67 trillion cycles per second. This, according to the company, "more than doubles the frequency of the fastest reported integrated circuit".

Dr William Deal, Northrop terahertz boffinry chief, described his team's achievements yesterday at the IEEE International Microwave Symposium being held in Anaheim, California.

"A variety of applications exist at these frequencies," he said. "These devices could double the bandwidth, or information carrying capacity, for future military communications networks. TMIC amplifiers will enable more sensitive radar and produce sensors with highly improved resolution."

The terahertz area of the electronic spectrum is one of few left unexploited, owing to the difficulty of building kit which can generate terahertz signals. It's thought that THz-range kit could provide "ultra-wideband" high-capacity comms. Furthermore the capabilities of current millimetre-wavelength radar could be enhanced to offer higher-resolution scanning.

It's also thought that terahertz sensors would be able to carry out spectroscopic analysis at short range, for instance detecting explosives in airport security channels.

There's a technical paper for those interested here in pdf. ®

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