Dr. Jim Browning, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boise State, is partnering with Stellar Micro Devices of Austin, Texas, to develop a miniaturized device to generate high-frequency electromagnetic waves. The device could someday help provide a safer alternative to X-rays or be used as part of new secure communications systems.
The six-month first phase of the project, funded by DARPA (U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), is now finished and a second phase proposal has been funded to continue the research over the next two years.
The tiny device, called a Micro Vacuum Backward Wave Oscillator, would be capable of generating electromagnetic waves at a frequency of more than 100 billion cycles per second (100 GHz). It might someday be used as the source to analyze material properties, provide satellite-to-satellite communication, or provide medical imaging in place of X-rays.
While there are already systems that generate these very high frequency waves, most are either heavy and bulky or have a limited frequency range. The development of a miniaturized system with a range of wave frequencies is of great interest and still very much in the experimental stage, says Dr. Browning.
This is a promising new research area for Boise State that could lead to new opportunities to develop relationships with industry partners, as well as provide students with opportunities to engage in innovative research.