DARPA's MTO develops new electronics for national defense

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) said on Wednesday that it recently took on new challenges to maintain the American military's strategic technological advantage.

While the MTO's work in compact microelectronic components helped the U.S. to establish and maintain technological superiority, the commercialization of advanced technologies has proliferated global access to advanced electronics. MTO recently initiated a number of programs at the intersection of engineering and biology to keep the U.S. on top.

The first programs of DARPA's new Biological Technologies Office (BTO) came from the Defense Sciences Office (DSO) and the MTO.

"The success of a number of MTO and DSO biologically related programs provided the necessary foundation and motivation to start BTO," Bill Chappell, the acting office director and deputy director of the MTO, said. "MTO's goal is to enable a whole new class of technology-driven capabilities for national security, as opposed to creating a single end-point solution."

The MTO seeks to leverage basic insights from private industry and academia to explore enabling technologies.

"We have top-down perspectives informed by national defense needs, but create bottom-up solutions based on the opportunities that present themselves through technology," Chappell said. "MTO intends to preserve and augment its critical position bridging between fundamental research and system integration."

Chappell said the MTO is planning a symposium in July in Washington that is meant to foster open discussion with various tech communities to further advance the vision of the office.