Chapter IV. Technology Development
Army Science and Technology Master Plan (ASTMP 1997)


J. Electron Devices

1. Scope

The Electron Devices Technology Area conceives and enhances the billions of ultraminiature components that constitute the nerves and brains of the digitized battlefield. The Army program generates the cutting-edge components essential for a vital advantage over complete dependence on widely available commercial electronics. This Technology Area capitalizes on basic research in the forefront of science (Chapter V), and advances it to the exploratory development subsystem level. It includes focused research, development, and design of electronic materials; nanoelectronic devices, including digital, analog, microwave, and optoelectronic circuits; electronic modules, assemblies, and subsystems; and the required batteries. The Electron Devices Technology Area comprises four major sub-areas: Electro-Optics, Millimeter-Wave Components, Nanoelectronics, and Portable Power Sources.

Figure IV-J-1. Impact of Electron Devices on Warfighting

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2. Rationale

Supremacy in Electron Devices is crucial to supremacy on the digitized battlefield. A superior, versatile, innovative program in electron device science and technology is essential to the broad Army vision of (1) decisive force multiplication with a minimum number of platforms and personnel, and (2) avoidance of potentially disastrous technological surprise on the battlefield. The technology supports the Army Five Modernization Objectives, Science and Technology Objectives, and Advanced Technology Demonstrations. The requirements of Army systems such as EW, radar, and C4I translate into component requirements, which may include performance, weight, size, radiation hardness, interoperability, cooling, power consumption, maintainability, and survivability. Surprisingly, this technology area represents over 40 percent of the procurement cost of many military systems. Military purchases of semiconductor electronics have increased by an estimated 25 percent from 1992 to 1996. Since total military procurement declined dramatically in those years, semiconductor electronics were one of the very few areas to experience significant growth. Fielding of weapons systems that meet present requirements, that can be upgraded to meet future requirements, and that have affordable life-cycle costs will demand exploitation of commercial electronics whenever possible, plus development of the special technologies here for Army systems which need unique capabilities.

3. Technology Subareas

a. Electro-Optics

Goals and Time Frames

The objective of the Electro-Optics subarea is to develop critical electro-optical components such as lasers, focal plane arrays, amplifiers, detectors, photonic devices, fiber optics, and low power displays for application in Army tactical and strategic systems. Near-term goals include development of affordable high resolution, full-color displays for Land-Warrior head mounted vision systems, realization of affordable multispectral FPAs, and economical fiber-optic distributed sensors, LIDARs, and optical countermeasures. Mid-term goals include development of smart multicolor staring focal plane arrays for robust seekers and acquisition sights, and 2-megapixel displays. Long-term goals include development of integrated multi-domain (LIDAR, focal plane array, millimeter-wave) smart sensor elements, and new display technologies.

Major Technical Challenges

Technical challenges include development of more reliable, higher efficiency, higher frequency, longer wavelength solid-state lasers; optical signal processors; cost-effective modules for information systems and IRFPAs; receive-architecture for optically fed phased-array radar; new low power flat-panel display and driver technologies; and monolithic integration of optoelectronic devices on silicon.

b. Millimeter-Wave Components

Goals and Time Frames

Near-term goals are to insert affordable monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMIC) into low-cost expendable decoys, low-cost MTI radar, and multifunction active array systems; mature and affordable millimeter-wave IC technology for next-generation, active-aperture systems; and mm-wave satellite communications. Mid-term goals are to continue cost reduction and increase the density and functional capabilities of MMIC assemblies and packages, extend microwave power module (MPM) technology to the millimeter-wave frequency regime, and provide common, secure, jamproof, affordable wireless communications, and battlefield friend-or-foe identification. Long-term goals are to achieve unprecedented levels of force multiplication through massive integration of diverse sensors that reduce system size and weight by an order of magnitude while meeting military cost, performance, reliability, and radiation hardness requirements. In brief, the overall goal is to own the battlefield electromagnetic spectrum.

Major Technical Challenges

Among the technical challenges in millimeter-wave components are the achievement of high power; high efficiency; large dynamic range; wide bandwidth; flexible manufacturing modeling and simulation, enabling first-pass success of components, modules, and arrays; and process integration necessary for high-yield, low-cost multifunctional solid-state devices and vacuum tubes. All these attributes must be provided at an affordable cost.

c. Nanoelectronics

Goals and Time Frames

Near-term goals include development of scalable manufacturing processes and cluster and lithography tools for flexible fabrication of integrated compound semiconductor devices; advanced process synthesis technology; novel devices for very high-throughput digital signal processors; integration of electronic combat and combat-support functions; wide-bandgap semiconductor devices for high-temperature electronics; pulse power electronics; nonvolatile memories; and microscale electromechanical components. Mid-term goals include development of lithography and fabrication capabilities for low-volume, affordable integrated microwave, digital, and optical processors. Long-term goals include flexible and affordable fabrication capabilities for concept demonstrations of fully integrated, nanometer feature size, ultra dense circuits for revolutionary warfighting sensor and information systems capabilities.

Major Technical Challenges

Among the technical challenges are creating new wide-bandgap semiconductor devices for high-temperature electronics and for low-leakage, high-breakdown, highly linear power devices, high-quality, radiation-hardened devices of diverse technologies; mixed-signal operation of nanoelectronics with on-chip millimeter-wave and electro-optic components; very low power circuits; and affordable custom nanoscale semiconductor processing for unique military applications-specific circuits. An overall major challenge is the development of high-performance, low-power electronic systems for a substantial reduction in battery requirements and associated weight and size penalties.

d. Portable Power Sources

Goals and Time Frames

The objectives of this program are to lighten the soldier’s burden, provide critical pulse-power components, and reduce logistical and disposal costs. This can be done by applying the physical sciences of energy conversion, electronics, signature suppression to improve existing power systems and to enable the development of newer, more advanced battery, fuel cell, capacitors, and electromechanical (including engines and permanent magnet alternators) components and systems.

The general goal is to develop small, lightweight, low-cost, environmentally compatible power sources with high power and energy densities for communications, target acquisition, combat service support applications, miniaturized displays, and microclimate cooling for the Future Soldier System.

Specific near-term goals are:

Specific mid-term goals are:

Specific long-term goals are:

Major Technical Challenges

Nonflammable, high-conductivity electrolytes and lower-cost manufacturing methods for Li batteries, improved fabrication methods for metal hydride cells, improved current collection from carbon fibers in electrochemical capacitors, polymer exchange membranes for fuel cells that retain conductivity at high temperatures, and spectrally-matched emitters and photocells for thermophotovoltaic systems, and higher efficiency combustion of and greater reliability/life for man-portable/man-handleable engine driven generator sets.

4. Roadmap of Technology Objectives

The roadmap of technology objectives for Electron Devices is shown in Table IV-J-1, below.

Table IV-J-1. Technical Objectives for Electron Devices

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Table IV-J-1. Technical Objectives for Electron Devices (cont.)

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Table IV-J-1. Technical Objectives for Electron Devices (cont.)

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Table IV-J-1. Technical Objectives for Electron Devices (cont.)

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