The goal of SuperCables will be to develop technologies that will enable energy-efficient high-data-rate interconnect between a superconducting data processor at 4 kelvins and a room temperature control system. The SuperCables program is primarily interested in components for the data egress system. A possible later program will also consider data ingress, and will integrate components into a complete data transmission system.

The superconducting system represents digital zeros and ones by either the absence or presence of a single flux quantum (SFQ). SFQ circuits produce voltage pulses that are about 1 mV tall and 2 picoseconds wide. The ideal data egress system would require dissipation of no more than a few tens of attojoules in the 4 kelvins environment to convert the SFQ information into a form that can be transmitted to room temperature. The data ingress system should have comparable efficiency. IARPA is most interested in systems that can be scaled to beyond petabits per second.

A possible solution will have photonic components at 4 kelvins coupled to optical fiber running to room temperature, but IARPA will consider other approaches.

The SuperCables program is expected to run for two years and to address the following tasks:

  • A pulse conditioner that takes SFQ input and produces output suitable for driving a range of photonic devices
  • A channel bonding technique
  • Energy-efficient high-data-rate electro-optic modulator
  • Other possible egress devices

IARPA anticipates one or more single-site awards for each of these tasks, but does not preclude some level of teaming, or a proposer working on more than one of these tasks. IARPA will arrange for Lincoln Laboratory to provide foundry service to fabricate niobium-based integrated circuit chips for the superconductor circuits.

Proposers' Day Briefings

Contact Information

Program Manager

Dr. William Harrod


Contracting Office Address

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity

Washington, DC 20511

Research Area(s)

Cryogenics, Optical communications, Photonics, Superconducting electronics

Related Program(s)

Broad Agency Announcement (BAA)

Link(s) to BAA


Solicitation Status


Proposers' Day Date

November 7, 2017

BAA Release Date

June 5, 2018

Proposal Due Date

Tuesday, 24 July 2018