NASA Develops Long-Lasting High-Temperature Electronic Chip

CLEVELAND /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA researchers have designed and built a new circuit chip that can take the heat like never before.

In the past, integrated circuit chips could not withstand more than a few hours of high temperatures before degrading or failing. This chip exceeded 1700 hours of continuous operation at 500°C—a breakthrough that represents a 100-fold increase in what has previously been achieved. The new silicon-carbide, differential-amplifier integrated-circuit chip may provide benefits to anything requiring long-lasting electronic circuits in very hot environments.

Such highly durable integrated circuitry and packaging are being developed to enable extremely functional but physically small circuitry for hot sections of jet engines. In the future, such electronics will enhance sensing and control of the combustion process that could lead to improved safety and fuel efficiency, as well as reduced emissions from jet engines. Similar benefits are also possible for automotive engines. Additional potential benefits of long-lasting high-temperature integrated circuitry extend to oil and natural gas well drilling and anything requiring long-lasting electronic circuits in very hot environments, including robotic exploration on the hostile surface of Venus.

"It's really a significant step toward mission-enabling harsh environment electronics," said Phil Neudeck, an electronics engineer and team lead for this work by the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. "This new capability can eliminate the additional plumbing, wires, weight, and other performance penalties required to liquid-cool traditional sensors and electronics near the hot combustion chamber, or the need to remotely locate them, where they aren't as effective."

This successful project is a combined effort of the Aviation Safety and Fundamental Aeronautics programs under NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.

For more information, visit the agency's Web site.