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DARPA tasks BAE Systems to develop quantum aperture RF technology

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has tasked BAE Systems as one of several defence companies to conduct research and development work for the agency's ongoing quantum aperture (QA) radio frequency (RF) sensor technology.

The company's FAST Labs directorate was awarded the “multiple development contracts” in November, according to a company statement. “While still in the early development phase, quantum sensing relies on fundamentally different physics than conventional antennas. This may allow us to circumvent traditional aperture design limits for sensitivity and size,” Julia MacDonough, product line director at BAE Systems, said in the statement.

Through the adoption of quantum sensing technologies, QA-enabled antennas “can reduce size and increase sensitivity and accessible bandwidth by several orders of magnitude. This can reduce the size and number of antennas on [US armed forces] platforms,” company officials added. The November announcement comes three months after agency officials selected research and development (R&D) teams from Honeywell, Northrop Grumman, ColdQuanta, and SRI International to participate in the QA antenna development effort.

“Commercial wireless infrastructure, the construct of spectrum use and beyond have been dictated by a hundred years' worth of antenna theory,” DARPA's QA Program Manager John Burke said in August. “With the introduction of quantum, we have the ability to replace the existing fundamental limits placed on antenna technology with a whole new set of rules. Quantum Apertures seeks to create a paradigm shift in the way we access and use the spectrum,” he added at the time.

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