Superconducting digital circuits have been actively pursued and developed for many decades due to their outstanding properties with high speed and energy efficiency. Competing for technology space with CMOS circuits, superconducting digital circuits technology has exhibited considerable progress and offers advantages on a number of metrics. The first generation superconducting digital circuits started from latching circuits, progressed to rapid single flux quantum (RSFQ) circuits, and more recently are realized as energy efficient single flux quantum (SFQ) circuits, which include ERSFQ, eSFQ, LVSFQ, RQL, and AQFP. The recent rapid progress of the energy efficient SFQ circuit technology enables the realization of even larger digital circuits, such as digital processors, operating with previously envisioned low power consumption.
This session is dedicated to Fernand “Doc” Bedard, retired NSA Fellow and one of the first directors of the Laboratory for Physical Sciences, who passed away on June 21st, 2018 in Silver Springs, Maryland. Doc received his B.S. degree in Physics and Mathematics magna cum laude from Fordham University and his Ph.D. in Physics from Johns Hopkins University. During his career, he taught physics at the University of Cincinnati, American University, and the University of Maryland.
He spent most of his career at the National Security Agency, working in a wide variety of technologies and technology applications in Research and Engineering. His association with superconducting electronics stretched back to early research into Dudley Buck’s cryotron in the early 60’s. He was one of the leading advocates and investigators of application of superconducting electronics to high performance computing and networking systems, including central roles in the IBM Josephson Computer Technology project in the early 70’s, the Crossbar Switch demonstration in the mid-90’s and the Hybrid Technology Multi-Threaded (HTMT) petaflops project in the late 90’s. The legacy of his vision can be seen in the current IARPA Cryogenic Computing Complexity (C3) program.
Doc was not just a visionary sponsor of superconducting research, he was an accomplished and creative inventor and technologist. Doc was the inventor on 6 patents and the architect and first circuit designer of the 128×128 crossbar switch. In addition, he used his deep insight into electromagnetism to pioneer novel sensors across a variety of bandwidths.
During his career, Doc mentored many scientists and engineers. He was always willing to provide his insight into computing, circuits, cryogenics, materials, physics, and a broad panoply of technologies. He was active in the organization of many of the flagship conferences including the earliest Applied Superconductivity Conference, the establishment of the International Superconductive Electronics Conference. He was a founding organizer of the Workshop for Superconductive Devices, Circuits, and Systems (the JJ Workshop) and was still a member of the board at his passing.
In 2002, Doc received the IEEE Award for Continuing and Significant Contributions in the Field of Applied Superconductivity for his contributions within superconducting electronics.
While he had retired from professional activities, those who were in contact with Doc know that he was still working and creating, developing his inventions and ideas for commercial applications of superconducting electronics. Doc’s wisdom, energy, humor, and sharp insights will be sorely missed.