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Monolithic Spin-Torque Microwave Diode Spectrograph

NVE Corp. (formerly Nonvolatile Electronics, Inc.)

Total Award: $140,534.00


Component: ARMY Solicitation: 16.A
Topic Number: A16A-T016 Proposal Number: A16A-016-0130
Year: 2016 Program Type: STTR Phase I
DUNS: 114264351 CAGE code: 0L743
Year Founded: 1989 Website: http://www.nve.com
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Benefit: Microwave communications and signal processing are essential to the success of the United States military, but is also important in advancing the state-of-the-art for commercial communication technologies. This program will benefit both of these areas by providing a superior combination of sensitivity and frequency selectivity compared to existing schottky diode spectrum analysis through the use of spintronic technology. The proposed technology would also drastically reduce the size, weight and power of comparable devices. Spintronics is a natural fit for microwave applications due to the operating frequency being in the gigahertz regime. The initial benefit of this program is to produce a fast, real-time spectrum analysis capability that can be used in communication and electronic warfare applications. Beyond this, the technology would lend itself to a host of components including voltage controlled oscillators, bandpass filters and phase modulators. Additionally, the area of spintronics, particularly spin transfer torques is a new and exciting area of research. This program will further basic knowledge of the fundamental physics involved. The collaboration in the university will also allow for training and mentoring of new researchers as well as provide them with industry exposure.
Technical Abstract: This Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer program will simulate and demonstrate the feasibility of a Spin-torque microwave diode spectrograph for real-time determination and monitoring of incident microwave signals. The microwave detection will be performed by a bandwidth encompassing parallel array of nano-patterned magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs). When an ac current of microwave frequency flows through an MTJ the magnetization of the free layer begins to precess. The MTJ resistance change couples to the ac current resulting in a measurable change in dc voltage. The sensitivity of this dc bias has been shown to be comparable to that of state-of-the-art Schottky diode detection with the advantage that the proposed detector is also frequency selective. In this program we use a combination of micromagnetic modeling, coupled with circuit simulations and expreimental fabrication and analysis of MTJ arrays to develop the best approach to prototyping the spectrograph. Consideration will be given to not just the array, but how the microwave input signal is conditioned and what the output will consist of. This will allow the opportunity to tune the circuit to the MTJs for optimal performance and result in a robust prototype design.
Keywords: Spin Transfer Torque, Magnetic Tunnel Junction, microwave, micromagnetics, MTJ, nanofabrication, ferromagnetic resonance
Organization POC: Peter Eames
Organization Address:
11409 Valley View Road
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
STTR Research Institute Name: Oregon State University
STTR Research Institute URL: http://eecs.oregonstate.edu/
STTR Research Institute POC Name: Patricia A. Hawk
STTR Full Address:
3001 Kelley Engineering Center
Corvallis, OR 97331
Topic Title: Spectrum Analyzer Using Spintronic Radar Arrays
Topic Objective: Research and development of new ultra-fast spintronic radar detectors and spectrum analyzers based on arrays of metallic or metal/insulator nano-scale magnetic diodes. These novel devices have the potential to become practical microwave detectors for military applications. They can be scaled down to ultimate nanometer sizes, they have a very low power consumption, natural frequency selectivity, ability to process very noisy external signals and are not vulnerable to ionizing radiation.
Topic Description: The proposed spintronic radar detectors and spectrum analyzers will be essential in future anti-radar and wireless interception and active interference (jamming) systems of ground combat vehicles. The objective of this project is to develop the theory of operation and the design of a novel ultra-fast spectrum analyzer and frequency detector based on randomized arrays of nano-sized spin-torque microwave diodes. The device can be used for anti-radar activities, counter-terrorist operations, military intelligence and other battlefield applications. As the result of this research and development effort, prototype nano-sized spintronic spectrum analyzers will be developed, tested and delivered to TARDEC. The operation of the proposed spintronic spectrum analyzer is based on the recently discovered spin-torque diode effect in magnetic multilayered nanostructures [1-4]. The spin-torque microwave diode (STMD) is nano-sized, naturally frequency-selective, radiation hard and could work in a passive regime with no power consumption. Required specifications are the following: capable of determining the carrier frequency of the incoming radar signals in less than 200 ns; an operational bandwidth of several GHz; frequency resolution better than 50 MHz; and tuneability from 3 to 20 GHz .
Topic Phase I: Develop theory of regular and randomized linear arrays of spintronic radar detectors and theory of correlation-based spectrum analysis of incoming microwave signals in such arrays. The first milestone will be the theoretical demonstration that the spectral analysis of the incoming signals in coupled arrays of STMD could be performed in less than 500 ns.
Topic Phase II: Use mathematical modeling and simulation to optimize the spectrum analyzers’ working characteristics, such as power sensitivity, frequency resolution and time interval of frequency analysis. The final milestone will be the optimized design of the device and delivery of a prototype spintronic radar array of 6 or more detectors, fabricated on a single chip, covering the frequency interval of 2 – 10 GHz.
Topic Phase III: Continue to improve the nanofabrication process, using the electron-beam lithography, to achieve 20 - 40 spintronic radar detectors on a single chip. Evaluate reliability across the microwave spectrum to assess power output levels sufficient for energy harvesting and various applications of interest to military and civilian markets. Spintronic devices are not sensitive to ionizing radiation and could be used in space and on a battlefield. Evaluate possible civilian applications in automotive industry, including ultra-fast side-impact radars and control of autonomous vehicles.
Topic Background: 1. Describe the transition path(s) to commercialization for this innovation or product. Be specific. Potential Transition Path: The research targeted in this topic has a clear transition path to the following customers: The spintronic microwave frequency detectors and spectrum analyzers will become an essential and vital part of the future anti-radar and wireless interception and active interference (jamming) systems for ground combat vehicles. These novel nano-devices will be integrated into adaptive armor that will substantially increase ground systems’ survivability. The ultra-fast spectrum analyzer and frequency detector based on randomized arrays of nano-sized spintronic microwave diodes will be used for anti-radar activities, counter-terrorist operations, military intelligence and other battlefield applications. These devices will replace semiconductor units in the future. We believe that spintronic microwave frequency detectors and spectrum analyzers will become an essential and vital part of the future anti-radar, radio-intelligence, interception and active interference, and other defense systems for military ground vehicles and aircraft and will substantially increase their survivability. 2 What DoD S&T Priority(ies) does this topic address? This topic addresses DoD priorities for battlefield situational awareness and for sensors that are not sensitive to ionizing radiation. Possible applications in detectors for adaptive armor, projectile tracking and target tracking. The proposed spintronic radar detectors and spectrum analyzers will be essential in the future anti-radar and wireless interception and active interference (jamming) systems of ground combat vehicles. 3. Why is the topic appropriate for STTR investment? Spintronics is a rapidly growing field of nano electronics that will have applications in computer technology and radar technology. New ultra-fast spintronic radar detectors and spectrum analyzers based on arrays of metallic or metal/insulator nano-scale magnetic diodes have the potential to become practical microwave detectors for military applications. They have a number of significant advantages: • can be scaled down to ultimate nano-meter sizes • very low power consumption • natural frequency selectivity • ability to process very noisy external signals • and are not vulnerable to ionizing radiation.
Topic Keywords: spintronics, radar detectors, metamaterials
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