The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman for the development of nitride electronic next-generation technology (NEXT).

Under the first phase of $28.9m contract, the company will develop the next generation of gallium nitride (GaN) electronic systems to support defence communications, aircraft and space systems.

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems electronics and sensors vice-president Dwight Streit said the newly developed GaN transistors and integrated circuit technology would enable high-performance analogue-to-digital converters for future advanced electronic systems.

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems NEXT programme manager Mike Wojtowicz said the programme aimed to increase the operating frequency of GaN devices to 500GHz while maintaining its high breakdown voltage in a large-scale integration process.

NEXT technology will enhance the performance of space systems and will enable next-generation, high-dynamic-range mixed-signal technology and high-frequency RF power sources.

Northrop has teamed up with the University of California Santa Barbara, Arizona State University and Pennsylvania State University for the development of NEXT programme.

The $12.4m first phase of the contract was awarded by DARPA.