Electronic Design

Superconducting ADC Promises Direct Conversion Of RF Signals

In an effort to realize a true software-defined radio, Hypres Inc. of Elmsford, N.Y., is developing an ultra-high-performance analog-to-digital converter (ADC) using ultra-high-speed and ultra-low-power superconductor technology. This monolithic superconducting ADC chip will directly convert RF signals from the antenna to digital baseband with an exceptionally high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and spurious-free dynamic range (SFDR).

This work is under a $1.5 million, two-year contract from the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR). Hypres will develop a superconducting bandpass ADC able to produce 14 to 16 effective bits with an SFDR of over 100 dB and an SNR of 90 dB at 14 bits. This bandpass ADC will offer a dynamically programmable bandwidth of 10 to 400 MHz with a 5-GHz center frequency.

Hypres attributes this performance to the ability to produce an accurate high-speed clock with subpicosecond jitter and to the use of a rapid single-flux quantum technique (RSFQ). Employing Josephson junctions, the RSFQ circuit uses a magnetic flux quantization technique in a phase modulation/
demodulation architecture to provide extremely linear and high-speed digitization of analog signals. Hypres uses a low-temperature niobium superconducting material for this application.

This contract continues an earlier pact inked in January. Under this $1.2 million, three-year deal from the ONR, Hypres will develop a digital receiver architecture that complies with the Navy's Joint Tactical Radio System. The bandpass ADC is a critical component of this digital receiver design.

Visit www.hypres.com for details.

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