Chip takes the heat

A new silicon carbide differential amplifier has exceeded 1,700 hours of continuous operation at 500°C.

In the past, integrated circuits could not withstand more than a few hours of high temperatures before degrading or failing.

Not any more. Now, researchers at NASA have developed a new silicon carbide (SiC) differential amplifier that, they claim, has exceeded 1,700 hours of continuous operation at 500°C – a a 100-fold increase in what has previously been achieved.

Such highly durable integrated circuitry and packaging are being developed to enable extremely functional but physically small circuitry that could be deployed in 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 such engines.

‘This new capability can eliminate the additional plumbing, wires, weight and other performance penalties required to liquid-cool traditional sensors and electronics near a hot combustion chamber, or the need to remotely locate them elsewhere where they aren’t as effective,’ said Phil Neudeck, an electronics engineer and team lead at the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.