Sub-millimetre wave or terahertz heterodyne receivers are key instruments for many space applications. For example, they are required for monitoring of the earth’s atmosphere or detection of molecules that might be tracers of life on other planets or moons. However, key components of these systems are currently supplied from outside Europe and performance as well as mass and power requirements often prohibit the implementation. The TeraComp project aims at developing European industrial level capability to design and manufacture terahertz front-end electronics based on high frequency Schottky diodes, Heterostructure Barrier Varactor (HBV) diodes and mHEMT MMICs for space and other applications. The prototype components will be integrated into a compact 557 GHz heterodyne receiver and evaluated for space instrument applications. The front-end demonstrator consists of a low noise 557 GHz subharmonic Schottky diode mixer, a 275 GHz Heterostructure Barrier Varactor frequency tripler and a 92 GHz mHEMT power amplifiers and a 15 to 92 GHz 6x multiplier as part of the local oscillator chain. This development will significantly contribute to mass and power reduction and it will improve the performance of terahertz heterodyne receivers. In addition, the dependence on critical technologies and capabilities from outside Europe for future space applications will be reduced.
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