Industry asked to develop sensors that operate at extreme temperatures to monitor hypersonic technology

May 22, 2023
HOTS program will develop a technology for high-bandwidth high-dynamic-range sensors that operate at temperatures of 800 degrees Celsius and hotter.

ARLINGTON, Va. – U.S. military researchers are asking industry to develop sensors like transducers and signal-conditioning microelectronics that can operate at extreme temperatures of at least 800 degrees Celsius for future hypersonic and jet engine applications.

Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., issued a broad agency announcement last week for the High Operational Temperature SensorsSensors (HOTS) program.

For demonstration purposes, DARPA wants industry to develop a pressure sensor module with an integrated transducer and signal-conditioning microelectronics.

Physical sensors that can operate in the high-temperature environment will enable systems to operate closed-loop with accurate state-of-health monitoring.

Related: How to build sensors with rugged enough sensor protection to withstand extreme heat of hypersonic flight

Many commercial and defense systems such as hypersonic aircraft and missiles, automotive, jet engine turbine, and oil-and-gas systems experience thermal environments beyond the capability of today’s high- performance physical sensors, DARPA researchers explain.

Yet today's state of the art typically cannot operate in temperatures higher than 225 C because of intrinsic limitations to their complementary metal oxide silicon (CMOS) materials.

The HOTS program will develop a technology for high-bandwidth high-dynamic-range sensing that operates at temperatures of 800 C and hotter.

Related: Extreme Environment Sensors project seeks flight control instruments for hypersonic aircraft and missiles

While wide-bandgap materials like silicon carbide (SiC) or gallium nitride (GaN) have potential for use at high temperature due to their significantly lower intrinsic carrier concentration, today they do not support sensor microelectronics with high bandwidth and large dynamic range at high operating temperature for useful lifetimes.

At high temperatures these materials can crack because of their coefficients of thermal expansion. They also can leak current because of the increase in thermal carriers.

To overcome these kinds of thermal limitations, HOTS seeks to overcome three key technical challenges: achieving long lifetime and large bandwidth transistors at high temperature; achieving a high-sensitivity transducer at high temperature; and integrating a high operating temperature sensor without degrading performance.

Related: GE Global Research to develop ways to enable sensors to withstand the shock and heat of hypersonic flight

HOTS will be a 36-month program broken into two phases, which will begin in January 2024. DARPA will brief industry on the HOTS program from 8 a.m. to noon on 31 May 2023 at the Booz Allen Hamilton Auditorium, 8283 Greensboro Drive, in McLean, Va. Register no later than 25 May 2023 online at

Companies interested in participating in the DARPA HOTS program should submit abstracts no later than 22 June 2023, and full proposals no later than 15 Aug. 2023, to the DARPA BAA website at

Email questions or concerns to DARPA at [email protected]. More information is online at

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