Sometimes it involves technological breakthroughs with huge potential. Guinness has handed DARPA's Terahertz Electronics program the award for the fastest solid-state amplifier integrated circuit. Developed by Northrop Grumman, the Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit (TMIC) is a ten-stage common-source amplifier that cranks speeds of one terahertz (1012 Hz), or one trillion cycles per second.
DARPA argues that the current state of electronics must move beyond speeds of 300 gigahertz and wavelengths of less than a millimeter if it is to meet the needs of the next generation of imaging, radar, spectroscopy, and communications technology.
It's all a matter of gain – a measurement of the ability of an electrical circuit to increase the power of a signal between the input and the output, measured in logarithmic decibel (dB) units.