The Consortium for Superconducting Electronics (CSE)-a group of institutions developing electronics applications for high temperature superconductivity-has announced the renewal of its program to demonstrate prototype subsystems for cellular communications and biomedical instruments.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) has extended its commitment to the CSE-whose members include MIT, AT&T, IBM and Conductus, Inc.-for a period of three years. The program has now progressed from developing basic superconducting electronics technology to deploying devices in practical applications.
Dr. Richard Ralston of MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the CSE's principal director, emphasized the group's evolution over its first four and a-half years from "an organization solving the basic scientific and technological challenges to one focused on demonstrating engineered circuits and qualifying them as system-worthy prototypes that will drive superconducting electronics to commercial success."
As part of CSE's increasing product focus, a new member company, CTI-Cryogenics, has become a member for the purpose of optimizing refrigeration systems needed for superconductor-based products.
W.F. Brinkman, physical sciences research vice president of AT&T Bell Laboratories, said, "The target application for communication devices is in emerging cellular telephone systems. The CSE strategy is to exploit its recent progress in superconducting microwave components to create base stations that serve a significantly larger number of customers more efficiently."
The Consortium is also targeting new applications in magnetic microscopy and low-cost biomagnetic imaging.
"These are challenging areas of significant commercial potential that will exploit the pioneering magnetic detection technology we developed for scientific and naval applications, as well as our strength in numerically intensive computation," said Mark F. Bregman, vice president of systems, technology and science at IBM Research.
The CSE was established in 1989 as a precompetitive R&D endeavor among three institutions with large research organizations: AT&T Bell Laboratories, IBM Research and MIT. It was the first consortium to receive support from ARPA (then known as DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). In 1991, the CSE added a new member, Conductus-a small company focused on superconducting electronics applications. Its CSE role is to develop manufacturing capability for microwave components and subsystems. The addition of the CTI-Cryogenics operations of Helix Technology Corporation brings to the CSE the capabilities of the world's largest manufacturer of cryogenic refrigeration systems.
Dr. Frank Patten of ARPA said the federal agency is "pleased to continue supporting this consortium as it moves toward product insertion. The twin focus on cellular phone systems and biomagnetic imaging is relevant to emerging activities at ARPA."
A version of this article appeared in the May 11, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 32).