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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

Work With NASA Glenn SiC Technology

Could your system benefit from integrated circuits durably operating for years in the most extreme environments?

Given that accessibility and commercialization are key to new technology infusion, NASA Glenn prototypes developmental SiC IC designs for interested external partners, and is also exploring transition of manufacturing to commercial wafer foundries. The NASA Glenn 500 °C Durable JFET IC Technical User Guide is intended to stimulate further exploratory design, simulation, and layout of potentially beneficial application-specific ICs by new potential technology users. This User Guide should enable competent electrical engineers to design their own SiC integrated circuits for implementation in the next “Version 12” NASA Glenn developmental run (that is presently scheduled to start in Fall of 2019 timeframe).

If you are interested in working with or licensing NASA Glenn SiC electronics and sensors technology, please contact Priscilla Diem of the NASA Glenn Research Center Tech Transfer Office (Priscilla.S.Diem@nasa.gov, 216 433-2095).