Superconductor Microelectronics: A Digital RF Technology for Software Radios

Darren K. Brock


When the concepts of ‘pure’ software radio1 were first introduced they were immediately recognizable to those who had worked on military systems at very low frequencies – at a carrier frequency of 16 kHz, A/D conversion of the RF carrier directly at the antenna was becoming feasible in the 1970s. However, only 10 years ago the prospect of ‘pure’ software radio implementations for commercial wireless systems, operating at carrier frequencies of 2 GHz and beyond, was seen as being decades away. Recent progress in the field of superconductor microelectronics has, however, been both remarkably rapid and significant, such that superconducting data conversion and DSP devices capable of operation at such frequencies have now been successfully demonstrated. The commercialization of this technology promises to be a key enabler of ‘pure’ software radio architectures for both commercial and military wireless systems. This chapter provides a description of the underlying technology and its potential in both commercial and defense wireless systems. The fundamentals of the technology have now been proven; the pace of commercialization will depend upon investment.

5.1 Introduction

The speed and flexibility enabled by superconductor microelectronics seems well matched to the goals of proposed software radio architectures. For the purposes of this work, we will only examine the field of low ...

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