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Executive Spotlight On... Richard Hitt...
CEO and President of Hypres, Inc.

Hypres is a leading developer of superconductor microelectronics technology and the Digital-RF product line. The company is currently developing an All Digital Receiver for satellite communications. During a recent conversation with Richard, he talked with SatMagazine about the Digital Receiver family of prototypes, and where Hypres is targeting its efforts.

SatNews
Richard, for readers who may not be familiar with Hypres and its technology, can you provide a brief summary of what the company does?

Richard
Hypres is the leading developer of superconductivity microelectronics. We are fabricating niobium-based circuits that, when residing in near absolute zero temperatures via a COTS cryocooler, exhibit no electrical resistance. Thanks to this superconductivity property, our circuits are able to greatly enhance the performance of components, devices and entire electronic systems.

Early on in the company’s history, the Hypres team successfully applied superconductivity microelectronics technology to metrology applications. The company gained much notoriety in this area—our circuits are used in equipment that defines and measures Voltage Standards for most of the nations around the world. We also created the world’s fastest oscilloscope.

Several years ago, we noted there was an opportunity to apply the technology to the RF complexities developing in the wireless communications sector. The proliferation of wireless standards and protocols and scarcity of wireless spectrum is leading an industry effort to create high performance, spectrum efficient, wireless systems. We believe that the key to achieve this is with wideband direct digitization—often thought of as the Holy Grail in RF design. We’re developing receivers, based on ADCs using our technology that are capable of direct digitization.

SatNews
Before you joined Hypres, you served in the U.S. Air Force and retired and then worked at Raytheon. What attracted you to Hypres?

Richard
I’ve spent the majority of my career developing wireless technologies for defense C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) applications and various commercial markets. I became aware of Hypres while I was with Raytheon working on projects related to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS) program software defined radio (SDR). I believed that Hypres’ technology addressed the most daunting challenge in developing a true SDR that would be able to operate over a wide swath of spectrum. Hypres offered the only solution that would allow for this wideband operation, via its direct-digitization capability. I was so impressed with Hypres that I joined the team when the opportunity became available.

SatNews
Without getting into too much techno-speak, can you explain how the technology aids in wireless performance?

Richard
When applied to wireless communications, digital superconductivity offers profound improvements in radio operating efficiency, data signal strength and speed, power conservation, and equipment cost reduction. Much of this performance improvement is due to the ultra-high speed, naturally occurring, magnetic pulses moving through the circuit—magnetic pulses fire at the speed of light, hundreds of times faster, and with much less complexity, than the electrons moving around inside a transistor circuit. This difference in speed and complexity can translate to the digitization of a wideband RF signal directly from the antenna, as opposed to the traditional—and more resource heavy—ways of conducting the process deep within the radio. In essence, superconductivity technology allows electronics manufacturers to remove most of a radio’s now-unnecessary analog components.

SatNews
What is it that Hypres brings to the table for satellite communications (SATCOM)?

Richard
SATCOM terminals rely on traditional superheterodyne-receiver frequency-downconversion methods to translate received X-band signals from the SATCOM terminal antenna to lower-frequency intermediate-frequency (IF) signals that can be processed and digitized. Typically, this means downconverting and splitting the signal 56 times before it can be sent to each of the modems. This degrades and distorts the signal to the point that it becomes a real challenge to process the link. The result is tractor-trailer sized, expensive, inefficient, power hungry terminals.

The All Digital Receiver, however, is able to take the signal directly from the antenna, perform the analog-to-digital conversion, and then send the signal directly into a single modem. The result is the elimination of the analog components that seriously degrade a satellite terminal’s signal—low noise amplifiers, downconverters, and associated cabling. The technology allows for smaller antennas while increasing the system’s G/T by at least 3 dB higher—a figure that equals doubling the throughput, or amount of digital data, the terminal can deliver per time unit.

SatNews
Can you discuss your company’s live satellite demo?

Richard
We performed a live satellite demo of our X-band digital receiver with engineers from Project Manage Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems (PM DCATS), and Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center (CERDEC), at the Joint SATCOM Engineering Center (JSEC) in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. The receiver consisted of a bandpass delta-sigma ADC modulator and a digital channelizing circuit. They were both clocked above 10 GHz to convert RF signals in the 7.25- 7.75 GHz range to digital and perform downconversion and filtering completely in the digital domain. The receiver system was interfaced with a digital interface-enhanced modem.

The demo included transmitting data and video from an Army satellite terminal, to an XTAR satellite, and then back to earth for reception by the same terminal. At the terminal, our All Digital Receiver acquired, digitized, and processed the signals directly at X-band. Our receiver directly digitized signals in the 7.25 to 7.75 GHz range. We believe it is the first time anyone in the world has directly digitized frequencies this high.

SatNews
In addition to satellite communications, what are the other applications for the technology?

Richard
Hypres has been delivering All Digital Receiver prototypes—each configured to meet specific operating requirements—to various U.S. defense sector customers. The company continues to demonstrate that All Digital Receivers can be designed to directly convert RF signals to digital at virtually any frequency and bandwidth, with performance that exceeds currently fielded satellite and tactical communications, signals intelligence, electronic warfare, and software defined radio equipment.

The company is focusing its attention on addressing defense-related communications challenges—where harsh operating environments, expanding performance requirements, and extreme technology gaps are the norm, and where the benefits of superconductivity offer tremendous opportunity. As commercial wireless applications become more complex—via software defined radio, so-called “cognitive radio” and other technical advancements—the company will develop its technology to meet this sector’s needs as well.

SatNews
What’s next for the company?

Richard
We’re continuing to experience increasing demand from defense prime contractors and systems integrators plus we’re starting to hear more from the commercial sector regarding how we can address some of the RF complexities this sector is dealing with.

Also, we’re continuing to work on the All Digital Receiver development, as it is part of a three-part project at Hypres to create an All Digital Transceiver. The other two parts include designing and producing an All Digital Transmitter, and then integrating the receiver and transmitter into a complete All Digital Transceiver.

SatNews
Thank you for your time, Richard. For those interested in learning more about Hypres and their product line, we recommend you check out http://www.hypress.com. The company is located in Elmsford, New York.



About Hypres
An aspect to the company we believe is noteworthy is the firmís complete, self-contained, microelectronics fabrication (fab) facility, complete with a full thin-films tools complement plus photolithography and etching. The aforementioned Niobium process is a full superconducting microelectronics circuit process. Additionally, Hypres can offer customized foundry services in several areas.

About Mr. Hitt
Mr. Hitt joined HYPRES in January 2003 as Vice President and General Manager of government products and systems. Prior to that, he served at Raytheon where he was Director of Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS) programs, and director of business development for radios and terminals. During his career, he has held senior leadership positions with EG&G of Boston and Mnemonics, Inc., of Florida. His career in the Air Force included extensive time as a senior program manager in the advanced technology headquarters of the Air Force TENCAP program, where he was involved in bringing new space command, control, and communications technologies to tactical combat units. His commercial experience has focused primarily on bringing new technologies to mainstream command, control, and communications product lines and programs.