SiC IC Design Process Model Grant from NASA

July 10, 2016 by Jeff Shepard

NASA has awarded $124,982 to Ozark Integrated Circuits Inc., a technology firm affiliated with the University of Arkansas, to create a fabrication process model for the design of complicated circuits that would operate for thousands of hours in very high temperatures. NASA's Glenn Research Center developed a silicon-carbide technology suited for long-term monitoring and control of systems at temperatures exceeding 500 degrees Celsius – such as those found on the surface of Venus or inside a jet engine.

Ozark Integrated Circuits Inc., which designs semiconductors at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park, will build on NASA’s research with a process design kit that will contain high-fidelity models, design rules and best practices for developing more complicated circuits, said Matt Francis, the company’s president and chief executive officer.

The NASA grant will also support the design of an integrated circuit – a general-purpose communication link – that will prove the design kit works, Francis said.

“Ozark IC has created process design kits for other extreme environments,” Francis said. “The industry-standard RS-485 communication link, which will also demonstrate the scalability of the technology, enables digital data to be transmitted in both directions. The link is a key building block in remote monitoring and control.

“At the application level, any system that needs to get information to or from a very hot location to a very cool location can make use of the RS-485 link in this technology,” Francis said. “The techniques we will develop will vastly reduce the cabling required and decrease noise. This is very important in aerospace applications where every gram of mass counts.”

The project builds on the long-term collaboration between Ozark IC and the U of A’s Mixed-Signal Computer Aided Design Laboratory. The U of A’s High Density Electronics Center, also located at the research park, will be utilized for device packaging and measurement on this project.