The 670 GHz compact circuit layout (right), alongside a detail of Northrop Grumman's 30-nanometer Indium Phosphide T-gate (left). Northrop Grumman

Following up on a 2007 world record for the fastest transistor speed, Northrop Grumman announced today that it has shattered the world record for integrated circuit performance. The new circuit layout operates at 0.67 terahertz, or 0.67 trillion cycles per second, more than doubling the frequency of the fastest known IC in the world.

Northrop Grumman’s Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit (TMIC) was developed as part of DARPA’s Terahertz Electronics program, which aims to introduce the next generation of high-performance electronics that push performance levels above the 1 terahertz center frequency range. Such electronics should lead to better communications technologies, sub-millimeter wave sensors, and terahertz imaging systems that blow current technologies out of the water.

Obviously, 0.67 terahertz doesn’t quite reach DARPA’s goals, which as always are quite ambitious. But TMIC amplifiers could still have an appreciable impact on technologies ranging from communications to radar to explosives detection. And naturally these advances should trickle down to benefit those of us who don’t have security clearance as well.

If you’re the type who really likes to dig into the nuts and bolts, the technical paper on the circuit is available in PDF here.

Northrop Grumman