by Steve Walley Vice President, Business Development, dB Control
MPD: Please describe what you consider to be your company’s most significant technological achievements in 2023.
Our first significant technological achievement this year was the introduction of the dB-3205 Mil-standard qualified millimeter-wave Q-Band Microwave Power Module (MPM) designed for advanced extremely high frequency communication and rugged military environments. It operates in the 44 GHz frequency range and provides 80 W CW RF output power and is significant because very few companies have been able to develop a high-power amplifier for Q-band. Our second achievement is the recent introduction of dB Control’s first GaN solid-state high-power amplifier, the dB-8015, that operates between 2 and 18 GHz and delivers 200 W CW at midband. The dB-8015 is compact, lightweight, and liquid cooled and designed for electronic countermeasures, electronic warfare, simulations, and multi-band communication systems.
MPD: What does the Department of Defense need most from the microwave industry?
As always, the Department of Defense is looking for power products that are lighter, smaller, more efficient, and cover multiple bands in a single device. They need amplifiers that can provide higher output power and operate in the millimeter-wave region. And of course, extreme reliability under all adverse conditions is non-negotiable. Despite the investment in research and development that manufacturers like dB Control must make to meet these requirements, DoD also expects our new products to continue to be affordable and cost effective. The dB-3205 MPM and dB-8015 MPM were designed with these requirements in mind.
MPD: An increasing number of applications rely on RF and microwave technology. What applications are most likely to significantly contribute to the industry by the end of the decade?
Space applications top the list. Satellites in geosynchronous, mid-earth, and low-earth orbits require wireless links either for backhaul or direct to devices on the ground. As satellites become more commercialized, the need for highly efficient TWT and solid-state amplifiers will also increase. Power supply efficiency is also a critical factor for space platforms that rely on solar power. As a result, TWTs have gone from three-stage collectors to even five-stage collectors to increase efficiency. For LEO satellites that are smaller and don’t need as much RF power, GaN, or even GaAs, devices will meet the needs of this application.
Closer to earth, whether it’s handling low-frequency signals in audio systems or managing high-frequency signals in RF and microwave systems, applications requiring coaxial switches will continue to contribute to the industry. Charter Engineering, a division of dB Control, offers a large selection of high-power MIL-standard switches with frequency ranges from DC to 40 GHz in numerous configurations and more than 60 series types and variations. By providing efficient signal routing, enhanced system flexibility, low insertion loss, high isolation, broad frequency range, and robust reliability, coaxial switches will continue to play a pivotal role in enabling seamless connectivity and reliable signal management for applications across a multitude of industries, including telecommunications, satellite communications, wireless networks, aerospace, and radar systems.