Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have designed integrated circuits that can survive at temperatures greater than 350° C—or roughly 660° F. Their work, funded by the National Science Foundation, will improve the functioning of processors, drivers, controllers and other analog and digital circuits used in power electronics, automobiles and aerospace equipment—all of which must perform at high and often extreme temperatures.
“This ruggedness allows these circuits to be placed in locations where standard silicon-based parts can’t survive,” said Alan Mantooth, Distinguished Professor. “The circuit blocks we designed contributed to superior performance of signal processing, controllers and driver circuitry. We are extremely excited about the results so far.”
The researchers worked with silicon carbide, a semiconducting material that is more rugged than conventional materials used in electronics. Silicon carbide is able to withstand extremely high voltage and is a good thermal conductor, meaning it can operate at high temperatures without requiring extra equipment to remove heat.
The research team, led by Mantooth and Jia Di, professor of computer engineering, achieved the higher performance by combining silicon carbide with wide temperature design techniques. In the world of power electronics and integrated circuits, their work represents the first implementation of a number of fundamental analog, digital and mixed-signal blocks, such as a phase-locked loop using a complimentary-style silicon carbide technology.
The research was part of the National Science Foundation’s Building Innovation Capacity program, which is designed to partner university and industry research to build intellectual collaborations so that innovations flow from ideas to solid research results, company prototypes and products. The University of Arkansas and two Fayetteville technology firms, Ozark Integrated Circuits and Arkansas Power Electronics International, form the basis for this innovation ecosystem. Raytheon is also a key partner.