Thermal Management of Highly Integrated Radio Frequency (RF) Electronics

Period of Performance: 05/24/2012 - 05/22/2015


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

First RF Corp.
5340 Airport Blvd. Array
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator


Sophisticated radar antennas such as an active electronically scanned aperture (AESA) are used to support acquisition and tracking in multiple modes over wide bandwidths, monopulse tracking, and Sense and Avoid RADAR (SAA) for UAV applications. These multi-function radar systems are small but require a considerable amount of power, which in turn produces a significant amount of heat. For these systems to be practical they must be lightweight and affordable while managing thermal loads to meet mission critical levels of reliability and performance. System weight, performance, and reliability are all positively impacted by having an efficient thermal management approach. During the phase 1 base effort, FIRST RF has substantially advanced the level of maturity of the array architecture described in the proposal. This architecture allows for intimate integration of the thermal management system, which is a problem in traditional phased array approaches. To demonstrate and mature this technology, we have focused on the particular design case of a lightweight, planar radar aperture. During the phase II program, the array architecture and thermal management approach will be demonstrated through fabrication and test of a phased array radar system operating at high RF power density.