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Sun, Feb 24, 2008

INPROX Technology Signs Space Act Agreement With NASA

Will Develop Advanced Silicon Carbide Digital Sensor

INPROX Technology Corporation (ITC) recently told ANN it has entered into a Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA's Glenn Research Center to develop advanced silicon carbide (SiC) based position sensors aimed at potential uses in future space flight, turbine engine controls and automotive engine applications.

Silicon carbide electronics are capable of operating in the extreme 600°C (1112°F) range and are poised to aid challenging on-engine, aerospace surface, automotive and energy applications and are recognized as a significant advancement over conventional silicon-based electronics. All of today’s conventional electronics must be carefully housed in controlled environments shielded from higher temperatures by cooling, necessitating complicated and often costly thermal management systems and long cable runs between critical sensor systems and the electronics that control them.

"The capability to embed electronics in a device without the need to provide cooling provides a substantial technological advantage for many applications in sensing and control," said Phil Neudeck, Electronics Engineer and Team Lead for this silicon carbide work sponsored by the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA Glenn Research Center.

The rising costs of fuel, both in automotive and aerospace markets and the drive for greater reliability at lower costs has the sensors and electronics market anticipating the capabilities of these next generation SiC electronics and sensors. Future space missions and satellites will certainly have high temperature and radiation hardened requirements and will rely heavily on the breakthroughs of today. The reduction or elimination of these thermal management systems and extended cable runs will aid greatly in lowering weight and costs even in the more traditional commercial aviation markets.

Present-day satellites have requirements for thermal radiators in order to dissipate heat generated by onboard electronics. These electronics, which are currently based in silicon or gallium arsenide, would have catastrophic failures if they were not carefully cooled by the craft's thermal radiators.

Because silicon carbide electronics can operate at much higher temperatures than these standard substrates, the mass and weight of such radiators on a given satellite could be greatly reduced or eliminated altogether. This would enable a set of substantial weight savings on satellites, or in the least case allow a much greater degree of functionality by using up the space and weight formerly assigned to the thermal management systems.

In addition, SiC sensors and controls are less susceptible to radiation damage than similarly rated basic silicon. In that respect SiC electronics could also shrink the size and weight of shielding which is normally used to protect satellite electronic components from space radiation.

"Silicon carbide is one of the most exciting advances in electronics being developed today. The marriage of SiC electronics, which can remain operational in high temperature, high power, and high radiation environments, enabled with our proprietary digital sensor technology is of great significance to us, our customers and the aerospace and automotive communities at large," said Derek Weber, INPROX Technology President. "Playing this vital role in the development of (SiC) sensors with NASA is a great opportunity and one that we are very proud of."

FMI: www.inproxtechnology.com, www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/home/index.html

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