CSIRO-TRW Alliance Explores Speedy Semiconductors
18 December 2001
CSIRO and U.S. telecommunications giant TRW have formed a strategic alliance to develop high-performance gallium arsenide and indium phosphide components for radio astronomy, advanced millimetre-wave sensors and telecommunications systems.
Velocium, TRW's telecommunication products company, and CSIRO have already worked together on upgrading CSIRO's Australia Telescope, the Southern Hemisphere's premier radio telescope.
Indium phosphide (InP) low-noise amplifiers and digital receiver chips, designed by CSIRO engineers and fabricated by Velocium, were a key part of the upgrade.
The telescope now operates at frequencies up to 100 billion cycles per second (100 GHz) and has just produced new, detailed observations of Centaurus A, the nearest galaxy known to harbour a supermassive black hole.
"We'll now be able to trace for the first time the path of this gas as it feeds the black hole," said Professor Ron Ekers, Director of the Australia Telescope National Facility.
"The Australia Telescope is a demanding test bed for our InP chips. The extremely high frequencies allow astronomers to take pictures of new phenomena with greater detail than ever before," said Dr Dwight Streit, president of Velocium.
"Velocium's InP chips are helping improve the science of astronomy now, and will soon be helping improve the performance of other sensor and telecommunication systems."
CSIRO started working with TRW in 1993, and in 1999 gained early access to TRW's InP technology for exploratory research, which helped expedite the technology's development.
Research done under the new strategic alliance will have applications from vehicle guidance to the detection of concealed weapons and contraband.
Velocium is part of TRW Space & Electronics, an operating unit of TRW Inc. TRW provides advanced technology products and services for the aerospace, telecommunications, automotive and information technology markets worldwide. TRW's news releases can be found at www.trw.com.
Ms Helen Sim, Communications Manager, Australia Telescope National Facility
Helen.Sim@csiro.au +61-2-9372 4251
Mr Jack Prichett, Media Relations Manager, TRW +1-310-812-5227
Prof. Ron Ekers, Director, CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility
(in Berkeley, California) +1-510-642-7768 (work)
Ron.Ekers@csiro.au +1-510-548-2223 (home)
Dr John Archer, CSIRO Telecommunications and Industrial Physics
High resolution images
Five antennas of CSIRO's Australia Telescope. Photo: CSIRO
The powerful southern galaxy Centaurus A (NGC 5128). Centaurus A is the nearest galaxy known to contain a supermassive black hole. Copyright Anglo-Australian Observatory. Photo: David Malin. Note: This photograph is supplied solely for use in connection with this news release.
Galaxy Centaurus A (NGC 5128) overlaid with a spectrum indicating HCO+ molecules moving rapidly around the galaxy's central black hole. Photograph by David Malin; copyright Anglo-Australian Observatory. Spectrum: B. S. Koribalski / CSIRO