Ozark Integrated Circuits to develop high-temperature electronic components for hypersonics and jet engines

March 6, 2024
The DARPA HOTS program will develop a technology for high-bandwidth high-dynamic-range sensing that operates at temperatures of 800 C and hotter.

ARLINGTON, Va. – U.S. military researchers needed electronic components for extremely hot environments for future hypersonics and jet engine applications. They found a solution from Ozark Integrated Circuits Inc. in Fayetteville, Ark.

Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., announced a $10.9 million contract to Ozark Integrated Circuits on Monday for the High Operational Temperature Sensors (HOTS) program.

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

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.

Related: The electronics design challenges of hypersonic flight

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.

DARPA wants chip designers at Ozark Integrated Circuits to develop a pressure sensor module with an integrated transducer and signal-conditioning microelectronics, as a demonstration of electronic components that could withstand the high temperatures of hypersonic missiles and aircraft, or for internal use in advanced jet engines.

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.

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

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. HOTS will be a 36-month program broken into two phases.

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.

For more information contact Ozark Integrated Circuits online at www.ozarkic.com, or DARPA at www.darpa.mil.

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