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The NASA Glenn Research Center Smart Sensors and Electronics Systems Branch is developing silicon carbide (SiC) as a material for advanced semiconductor electronic device applications.

SiC-based electronics and sensors can operate in demanding conditions (including 600 °C = 1112 °F glowing red hot!) and where conventional silicon-based electronics cannot. Silicon carbide’s ability to function in high temperature, high power, and high radiation conditions will enable important performance enhancements to a wide variety of systems and applications. In particular, SiC’s high-temperature high-power capabilities offer economically significant benefits to aircraft, spacecraft, power, automotive, communications, and energy production industries.

SiC Chip Testing Glowing Red Hot at 600 C

A 3 mm x 3 mm square SiC oscillator integrated circuit chip in the center of the 32-lead ceramic package operates while glowing red-hot at 650 C. A SiC transistor gate on the same SiC chip electrolumenesces blue light when forward biased. SiC devices have repeatedly demonstrated operation at temperatures above 400 C. Silicon-based electronics cannot function at these temperatures.

SiC Research at NASA Glenn

To meet the needs of the applications mentioned above, the Smart Sensors and Electronics Systems Branch at the NASA Glenn Research Center is making important advancements in SiC electronics technology. In particular, research is focused on developing improved crystal growth and sensor/electronic device processing technologies necessary to enable and beneficially infuse improved SiC sensor and electronic integrated circuit capability into both NASA missions and commercial applications.

Technicians Working in NASA Glenn Microsystems Fabrication Laboratory

NASA Glenn Microsystems Fabrication Laboratory Class 100 Clean Room