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VFTT – Quantic PMI

VFTT – Quantic PMI
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by Dave Durbin, Director of Engineering and Vice President, Quantic PMI

MPD: Please describe what you consider to be your company’s most significant technological achievements in 2023.

DD:

This past year we have made technological advancements in the key areas of high frequency, high power, and high precision components.  As an example of our higher frequency components, we built a broadband 100 MHz to 70 GHz single-pole, double-throw, solid-state PIN diode switch with over 65 dB isolation at 70 GHz and a switching speed of less than 50 ns.  In the high-power realm, we have achieved 2 to 18 GHz high-power amplifiers with over 40 dB of gain and saturated output powers up to 10 W.  In terms of high precision, our digitally tuned attenuators and phase shifters have been calibrated for 14 bits lending to step sizes of 0.005 dB and 0.02 degrees, respectively.   

With these single-function components in our catalog, Quantic PMI is poised to take advantage of the technical know-how to continue improving component performance as well as offering higher performance integrated microwave assemblies and transmit/receive modules moving forward.  We are excited to grow with our customers and provide them the ability to design more creative and higher performing systems.

MPD: What does the Department of Defense need most from the microwave industry?

DD:

The microwave industry has matured through the years under the influence of the Department of Defense and being able to meet their varied needs.  Having been in the industry for over 20 years, it has been interesting to see the shift in priorities based on emerging threats.  One of the challenges with shifting priorities, such as moving from ship-based systems to aircraft to drones to satellites, is to be able to quickly offer solutions that fit into smaller, lighter, lower-power packages while offering peak performance. 

There has been a movement to standardize custom solutions which is a complex initiative.  On the one hand, by standardizing packaging, prime contractors can provide DoD with systems that can be upgraded utilizing multiple vendors’ products without having to redesign their system.  The advantage is that a system can improve its performance without having to go through a new cycle of non-recurring engineering and take advantage of a plug-and-play architecture.  The challenge is to try and anticipate needs years beforehand so that the standardization allows for creativity from microwave design engineers.

Open VPX and SOSA are standards which are inclusive of industry designers, have similar goals of plug-and-play modules, and have a lot of support from DoD.  By embracing the standards and designing components, subsystems, and integrated microwave assemblies in their form factor, the microwave industry will be able to offer DoD more flexibility in their systems and allow them to speedily advance based on emerging threats.

Quantic PMI and Quantic Electronics are designing frequency sources, transceivers, and integrated assemblies with these standards in mind to help facilitate DoD’s need to field systems that are state of the art without losing years of development time and staying within budget constraints.

MPD: An increasing number of applications rely on RF and microwave technology. What application is most likely to significantly contribute to the industry by the end of the decade?

DD:

Data migration applications will significantly contribute to the industry by the end of the decade.  RF and microwave technology has been used to improve wireless communications with Wi-Fi, 5G networks, and GPS. These improvements allow streaming data to computers, televisions, and smartphones.  Now, a large amount of interest and funding are pouring into artificial intelligence applications.  With AI, there will be a lot of information that needs to move from place to place.  With data rates in the gigahertz range, the movement of information will require RF and microwave technology. 

AI systems could gather information through sensors, transmit that data to a central processing unit, and instruct a corresponding AI system to act accordingly.  In mission critical applications, this entire process needs to happen as expeditiously as possible.  Securely transmitting, attempting to intercept, and receiving and conditioning that data are RF and microwave applications. 

For instance, radio communications have previously been designed using superheterodyne radios and lately more have been developed with software-defined radios. Future applications will create opportunities for RF and microwave companies to create novel AI radios.  AI radios will be able to make decisions far faster than a human and configure hardware specifically to address its current environment.  This potential decision-making ability advances current automatic control systems that adjust gain and attenuation levels or filter selection.

These AI capabilities provide unique opportunities for RF and microwave systems to instantaneously monitor a broad frequency spectrum, identify a signal of interest and appropriately optimize the receiver path for that frequency and power level in real time.  Quantic PMI and Quantic Electronics are ready to provide the mission critical components and sub-system hardware needed to condition signals for quick, secure and efficient data migration.

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