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NASA Building Massively Heat-Resistant Chips

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the don't-bother-with-water-cooling dept.

NASA 172

coondoggie writes "NASA researchers have designed and built a new circuit chip that can take the heat of a blast furnace and keep on performing. Silicon carbide (SiC) chips can operate at 600 degrees Celsius or 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit where conventional silicon-based electronics — limited to about 350 C — would fail. The new silicon carbide differential amplifier integrated circuit chip may provide benefits to anything requiring long-lasting electronic circuits in very hot environments such as jets, spacecraft, and industrial machinery. In particular, NASA said SiC applications will include energy storage, renewable energy, nuclear power, and electrical drives."

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Great idea (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20566717)

This gives an update for my macbook pro.

Re:Great idea (1)

Duhavid (677874) | about 7 years ago | (#20566959)

No no, it is for retiling the outside of the shuttle.

Re:Great idea (3, Funny)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | about 7 years ago | (#20567293)

No no... they are going to put it into Dell Laptops and bring back the old battery model's ;)

Re:Great idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20568745)

bring back the old battery model's

The battery model's what? The apostrophe implies ownership. What word did you omit after "model's"?
Oh, you meant to say "old battery models" because you wanted to use the plural of the word "model".
Why the fuck can't people understand something as simple as the correct usage of apostrophes? Here is a quick tip: If in doubt, leave the apostrophe out!

Dell notebooks (1)

Potor (658520) | about 7 years ago | (#20568071)

perhaps, but they would be invaluable for those dell notebooks [theinquirer.net] ...

Too Bad (5, Funny)

Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) | about 7 years ago | (#20566721)

Its too bad, we could have used this when the Pentium 4 Prescott came out...

Just good to know I can run my Intel CPU at 350C! (2, Insightful)

unassimilatible (225662) | about 7 years ago | (#20567733)

Why even have a heatsink?

Re:Just good to know I can run my Intel CPU at 350 (1)

Andrzej Sawicki (921100) | about 7 years ago | (#20567795)

Maybe melting the surrounding components would not be so good?

Re:Too Bad (2, Funny)

uolamer (957159) | about 7 years ago | (#20569025)

my P4 Prescott 3.2ghz still running quite well in my living room.. I keeps the room nice and warm too, in the winter i have to overclock it to 3.9ghz to keep from turning on the heater tho..

imagine the possibilties (2, Interesting)

JazzyMusicMan (1012801) | about 7 years ago | (#20566731)

As I read all I could think about was...overclocking

Re:imagine the possibilties (2, Insightful)

Falstius (963333) | about 7 years ago | (#20567021)

Unfortunately, the metal interconnects would probably melt. They're probably doing all of the interconnects with doped carbide, making this chip very slow (or power hungry). Its a shame when your CPU starts dripping metal from running folding@home.

Re:imagine the possibilties (1)

jank1887 (815982) | about 7 years ago | (#20568717)

no interconnects. this is not a processor. it's a chip. likely a single transistor the size of the silicon in your CPU. wirebonding typically platinum for very high temp packages. al-al or au-au if not quite as severe. other options available below that.

CPUs.. (-1, Redundant)

scoot80 (1017822) | about 7 years ago | (#20566739)

That is pretty cool. Implement it in current CPUs and you could quadriple overclock it without the liquid nitrogen cooling. Though your room might get a bit hot...

Re:CPUs.. (4, Funny)

QuickFox (311231) | about 7 years ago | (#20567103)

That is pretty cool.
Cool? You think these chips are cool? I'd hate to be in a place you think is hot.

Re:CPUs.. (-1, Flamebait)

scoot80 (1017822) | about 7 years ago | (#20567625)

Nice job moderators. May you burn in hell. So go on, mod this down too.

Re:CPUs.. (1)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | about 7 years ago | (#20567765)

Redundant [reference.com] - adj. - 1. characterized by verbosity or unnecessary repetition in expressing ideas; prolix: a redundant style.

Maybe this [slashdot.org] had something to do with it... If you have a problem with the moderation system when it actually works, I can't wait to see you in a heated discussion (something like vi vs. emacs).

Re:CPUs.. (1)

QuickFox (311231) | about 7 years ago | (#20568205)

A bit harsh. They're just a minute apart. Maybe just seconds apart.

Not that I see much point in protesting mods. This happens all the time. You just move on. Next time it may go the opposite way.

But if, in spite of this, you do stop to think about it briefly, then in fact it is undeserved when the comments may well have been just a few seconds apart.

Re:CPUs.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20568823)

Architect_sasyr - noun - 1. A person who doesn't understand the correct use of apostrophes.

Maybe this [slashdot.org] had something to do with it... If you have a problem with punctuation now, I can't wait to see you in a harsher environment (like 12th grade English).

Re:CPUs.. (3, Funny)

budgenator (254554) | about 7 years ago | (#20569205)

pretty cool, getting moded flamebait in a thread about an IC chip that'll run in a blast furness!

That sound you hear (5, Funny)

SpiffyMarc (590301) | about 7 years ago | (#20566749)

is hundreds of champagne corks popping simultaneously at the AMD campus.

Re:That sound you hear (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | about 7 years ago | (#20568417)

is hundreds of champagne corks popping simultaneously at the AMD campus.

That's 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit not Celsius. You're still gonna need one hell of a heat sink.

A=A if you ignore B (1, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 7 years ago | (#20566753)

If I have 1 apple in basket A and 1 apple in basket B, how many things do I have, altogether?

Sure, you can withstand 600 degrees of heat, but what about the heat generated internally? If that heat can't escape, you're looking at temps much hotter than your 600 degrees blast furnace.

20 years ago, I wouldn't have even thought to question NASA's work, but their track record lately invites such abuse.

Re:A=A if you ignore B (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20566799)

If I have 1 apple in basket A and 1 apple in basket B, how many things do I have, altogether?

At least four. Two apples and two baskets. Probably a shit, trousers, underwear, socks, shoes. Maybe a house, a wife, kids, a car, and all they entail.

Hey, NASA's capabilities are increasing by leaps (4, Funny)

patio11 (857072) | about 7 years ago | (#20567291)

Now the chips which will execute the

    distanceInFeet = distanceInFeet + deltaInMeters;

calculation are heat resistant.

(Hey, only kidding guys. I mean, we all make mistakes. Of course, I don't expect you to be rocket scie... oh, wait. Well, its not like you had ten billion dollars of... oh, wait. Well, the point of it is, you can still make mistakes.)

Re:A=A if you ignore B (3, Insightful)

smashin234 (555465) | about 7 years ago | (#20567339)

"20 years ago, I wouldn't have even thought to question NASA's work, but their track record lately invites such abuse."

You underfund the agency and expect huge rewards? We dumped so much more money into NASA back in the days of the spacerace and we as a society benefited from hundreds of technologies that today we take for granted.

I am not saying NASA shouldn't be watched for spending....but you can't expect an agency to perform if you don't give it money.

This may not be a huge accomplishment, but being able to withstand higher heat means that you can keep your current cooling apparatus the same and simply allow the chip to run faster (and hotter). Yes, the heat still needs to escape, and there may be other problems with implementation, but you have to take that first step first.

Re:A=A if you ignore B (1)

Gumbytwo (68015) | about 7 years ago | (#20567349)

From TFA: "This new capability can eliminate the additional plumbing, wires, weight and other performance penalties required to liquid-cool traditional sensors and electronics near the hot combustion chamber..."

...what about the heat generated internally?
Hmm, what's the next step down from liquid cooling? Gee, I don't know, maybe a heat sink?

20 years ago, I wouldn't have even thought to question NASA's work, but their track record lately invites such abuse.
With that kind of a statement and accompanying "analysis," I wouldn't start.

What "Silicon carbide (SiC) chips" to build? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20567391)

What "Silicon carbide (SiC) chips" to build?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_hardened [wikipedia.org]

Pick you Rad-Hardened 32-bit uP:
#1. RAD750 PowerPC-750
#2. Am29000 (variable window size to improve usage)
#3. LEON SPARC v8 (ESA) (fixed window size)
#4. i686

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAD750 [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_29000 [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LEON [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I686 [wikipedia.org]

Re:A=A if you ignore B (1)

afidel (530433) | about 7 years ago | (#20567477)

More importantly none of the components around chip can survive such temperatures. For instance I don't know of any high K dielectric that would survive, making the motherboard break down. Also there isn't an solder that can take that kind of heat so the chip would just fall out. It's great making one component robust but a computer is a lot more than one component. I guess if you just need a high temp microcontroller this is useful but I don't think it solves a lot of general case high temp problems.

Re:A=A if you ignore B (4, Informative)

jank1887 (815982) | about 7 years ago | (#20567843)

congratulations. you have no idea what you're talking about.

high temperature boards are ceramic (AlN, Al2O3, HTCC, DBC, etc.) seeing as how they're fired from 1-2000C, they'll be ok.

silver-glass die attaches are okay up to 400-450C. Beyond that, you have high-temp brazes, AuIn, AgAuGe, AgCu, oh and AuNi ok up to 950C.

Circuit!= computer. Chip != microprocessor. SiC chips = power electronics switch or sensor components. sure, you could build a processor out of these, but you could also just go back and build a Pentium out of vac.tubes.

It's a wide-bandgap semiconductor material that is being extensively developed for specific power or harsh environment applications. There currently are no MOS devices (used in your PC). Switching speeds typcially in the kilohertz range, for power conditioning. That chip is a single transistor, about the size of the piece of silicon in your PC. Finally, silicon's only okay to 150-200C. The article should have said 350F, not 350C.

read and learn. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_semiconductor_device [wikipedia.org]

Re:A=A if you ignore B (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 7 years ago | (#20568229)

you could also just go back and build a Pentium out of vac.tubes

I gotta tell you. I just did this. What a difference! It has this quality that's hard to describe. A kind of warmth that I just don't get from silicon transistors.

Re:A=A if you ignore B (0)

raduf (307723) | about 7 years ago | (#20569243)

Funny thing is, vacuum tubes are actually better quality-wise. Something to do with response times and stuff. Fiability however is crap, plus the little problem of a few million bulbs in the room...

Not what we need (2, Funny)

athdemo (1153305) | about 7 years ago | (#20566757)

A bunch of geeks eventually running hardware at thousands of degrees in their cluttered, and probably somehow very flammable, rooms.

I'll be back. (1)

dwater (72834) | about 7 years ago | (#20566775)

...or did he come back? I forget...last one I saw was him dropping into a blast furnace.

Re:I'll be back. (1)

Yoozer (1055188) | about 7 years ago | (#20568475)

Yeah. This research was obviously funded by Skynet.

Damnit.

Oh well, I'll just wait for part 5 of the series.

It is about damn time (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20566789)

I can't tell you how many times I have accidentally left my computer in the blast furnace. It is so annoying when it won't work after that!

Quick, someone warn Apollo Diamond! (4, Informative)

lordofthechia (598872) | about 7 years ago | (#20566795)

In case you didn't know, Apollo has been developing a system to grow diamond wafers through CVD (Carbon Vapor Deposition) for you guessed it, semiconductor use.

Anyway SiC is used in jewelry [moissanite.com] too (obviously with the same properites), just never realized that it could be used to make microelectronic devices like this. Heh, my wife's engagement ring just got way cooler.

Re:Quick, someone warn Apollo Diamond! (2, Informative)

lordofthechia (598872) | about 7 years ago | (#20566939)

Hmm... somehow lost my link to Apollo, well here [apollodiamond.com] it is.

Re:Quick, someone warn Apollo Diamond! (2, Informative)

dido (9125) | about 7 years ago | (#20567217)

Silicon carbide is really hard stuff. It's another name for the industrial abrasive carborundum [wikipedia.org] and it's generally harder than sapphire (9 on the Mohs scale) but slightly softer than diamond (10 on the Mohs scale).

Re:Quick, someone warn Apollo Diamond! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20568395)

Heh, my wife's engagement ring just got way cooler.
Yeah, now she can use it to go online and meet someone who'd buy her the real thing.

The fun place to use this (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 7 years ago | (#20566797)

I've wondered sometimes why people didn't build silicon carbide chips and put them into Venus landers.

Re:The fun place to use this (1)

Tavor (845700) | about 7 years ago | (#20566915)

True, it would allow the chip to function longer on descent. Building a vessel to hold it lightweight enough to launch, but heavy enough to survive the massive pressures of Venus' dense atmosphere is still the challenge.

Can you imagine a Venus lander 'floating' on a super-dense gas/liquid? It's Sci-Fi for the foreseeable future; and, likely forever.
/OT: Notice to all operators and grammar nazis. This station is operated by a man with a headcold. All scientific and spelling errors are unfortunate.

Re:The fun place to use this (2, Insightful)

Iowan41 (1139959) | about 7 years ago | (#20567569)

Kinda like flight. Or going faster than 20 miles an hour. A little engineering thinking makes it easy to get around the pressure problem: Let it be "wet" not "dry" No need to maintain 1 bar in a pressure vessel, now is there? Of course, the other components have to handle the heat, too, not just the chips.

Re:The fun place to use this (2, Informative)

ACDChook (665413) | about 7 years ago | (#20567767)

Can you imagine a Venus lander 'floating' on a super-dense gas/liquid?
And why would a Venus lander need to do this? Last I heard Venus was no gas giant. The Russian probes all seemed to find a solid surface to land on.

Love the name... (1)

Onlyodin (1137597) | about 7 years ago | (#20566827)

Gotta love the name... fully SiC ;)

So, when are we getting these in workstations? Although, my current laptop tends to get pretty hot, I don't think I would want 1600 degrees on my nuts :P

Re:Love the name... (3, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 7 years ago | (#20567737)

So, when are we getting these in workstations? Although, my current laptop tends to get pretty hot, I don't think I would want 1600 degrees on my nuts

Heat-resistant nuts are their next project.
     

This could help my girlfriend (0)

this great guy (922511) | about 7 years ago | (#20566829)

Every time she tries to use a laptop, it melts because... she is so hot.

Re:This could help my girlfriend (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 7 years ago | (#20566841)

This could help my girlfriend

Every time she tries to use a laptop, it melts because... she is so hot.


Maybe you should take her in for repairs. If the battery is from Sony, you may risk serious fire damage.

Re:This could help my girlfriend (1)

this great guy (922511) | about 7 years ago | (#20567053)

She is indeed a Sony fembot. Ahh that could explain a lot of things...

Re:This could help my girlfriend (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20566905)

... *crickets*

Re:This could help my girlfriend (4, Funny)

Bodrius (191265) | about 7 years ago | (#20567001)

Ah, the moderation conundrum:

Should this be +1 Funny for using the words "my girlfriend" in Slashdot, or does the lameness of the other joke cancel it out?

Re:This could help my girlfriend (1)

The Orange Mage (1057436) | about 7 years ago | (#20567019)

What other jo....oh, waaiiit. I get it. Teehee.

Re:This could help my girlfriend (1)

glwtta (532858) | about 7 years ago | (#20567263)

You aren't the first to make that mistake [gotfuturama.com] .

Re:This could help my girlfriend (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20567431)

Every time she tries to use a laptop, it melts because... she is so hot.

I know it is lonely being a geek, but your soldering iron is not a substitute for human companionship.

and... (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 7 years ago | (#20566847)

The new silicon carbide differential amplifier integrated circuit chip may provide benefits to anything requiring long-lasting electronic circuits in very hot environments such as jets, spacecraft, and industrial machinery...

...and the exhaust system of my car.

Noise could be a problem (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20566869)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_noise [wikipedia.org]

TFA talked about an analog amplifier. As such, noise is a problem. The higher the temperature a circuit is operated at, the greater the noise. For some low noise applications, it is standard practice to run an amplifier in a liquid nitrogen bath. For most applications, room temperature is ok from a noise standpoint. The temperature TFA talks about would produce about three times the noise of a room temperature circuit. For many applications, that would be way too much.

For some applications, high temperature operation would be hard to avoid. Landing a probe on Venus comes to mind in that regard. The extra noise induced by temperature should cause lots of engineering misery.

Only a few dB (1)

markov_chain (202465) | about 7 years ago | (#20567257)

n/t

Re:Noise could be a problem (1)

jank1887 (815982) | about 7 years ago | (#20568867)

hmmm.. too bad the PhD's never thought of that problem. oh, wait. they did. that's why they're using Silicon Carbide.

Thermal noise is typically related to the random promotion of carriers from the valence band to the conduction band, which gets worse at higher temperatures because the electrons get more energy. THE primary electronic difference between Silicon Carbide and Silicon is that SiC is a wide-bandgap material. It takes a lot more energy to promote carriers than in silicon. Also, SiC has ~0 thermally promoted carriers at room temperature, vs 10^10 for silicon. So, as temperature increases, it takes a while to get to the point that thermal noise becomes as much of a problem as it would be for silicon. Yes, if I needed a super precise amp, that could still be too much noise for some applications. Of course, if you needed one, not sure what better amp you're going to get to operate in a 600C environment.

Laptops (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20566879)

And you think laptops were too hot for your lap before..

Why? (1)

Foktip (736679) | about 7 years ago | (#20566885)

A Silicon Carbide chip could also be used to cut or grind steel... the manufacturing costs for making a silicon carbide ship must be insane!

Re:Why? (1)

jank1887 (815982) | about 7 years ago | (#20568901)

wow. a 3 inch silicon carbide wafer costs a couple grand. a whole ship? maybe a small sloop or something. something like the titanic would require the GDP of a small country. or not so small.

but yes. it's expensive. until we figure out the processing control, costs will stay high too. still too expensive for most commercial app's, but once that changes SiC will replace a lot of Si power electronic devices.

Re:Why? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20569011)

Let's hope they stay high. You are aware that AMD and Intel will immediately stop trying to get faster without increasing the heat if they could, yes? I mean, yes, we'd have CPUs running at approximately 5 times the speed in a year, but wasting about 10 times the energy to do that. 20 times if you factor in the AC energy cost to keep the room at a temperature below 100F.

350C for Silicon? (4, Informative)

Mateorabi (108522) | about 7 years ago | (#20566937)

Summary claims 350C for traditional silicon, but most silicon based transistor manufacturers list only 125C as the maximum junction temperature. (Which makes the package temp max out at 70-85C.) Makes me question how fast and loose the author was playing with the numbers. Article starts with 600C for SiC, but in the same paragraph they are down to 500C for only < 2000hrs of operation? Hype?


Also, do SiC transitors switch as fast as doped silicon? Otherwise the "make a pentium with it!" ideas might fall flat.

Re:350C for Silicon? (1)

icegreentea (974342) | about 7 years ago | (#20567043)

the 350 vs 600 degree figure comes from the NASA site linked to from TFA.

Re:350C for Silicon? (1)

jank1887 (815982) | about 7 years ago | (#20568911)

confirmed. here's the nasa SiC main page. http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/SiC/ [nasa.gov]

not sure where they pulled that number from. 350F is ~175C. That's about right. harsh applications, certain silicon devices can go a bit above 150. maybe with heavy doping a bit higher. my guess is they meant F on the site.

Great for cookies (1)

cosm (1072588) | about 7 years ago | (#20566965)

Might be useful in things like after market automotive applications. Think pimp my rides.
-Dude my car has 2 plasmas on the engine block and ground-fx in my exhaust!
Or - Imagine the possibilities...
-Elementary school kids can put blinking LEDs on their pottery in art class.
-Sparklers that have those embedded electronic voice boxes that sing "Na na...can't touch this."
-I can run a computer in a cooking pot roast for the sake of novelty. (Anyone for the back of CPU magazine, or pot roast?)

This does not bode well... (1)

pokerdad (1124121) | about 7 years ago | (#20566973)

...for anyone planning on owning the XBox 720.

Re:This does not bode well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20568865)

As an act of good faith they'll not only replace the system, but the burnt down house too.

Sorry, OT... (3, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 7 years ago | (#20566997)

600 degrees Celsius or 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit

I love those "pull-significant-digits-out-of-my-ass" unit conversions.

Re:Sorry, OT... (-1, Troll)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 7 years ago | (#20567143)

I love those "pull-significant-digits-out-of-my-ass" unit conversions.

That's actually where most significant digits come from, especially in the Catholic Church.

Sorry, sorry, couldn't resist. It was the beer talking.

Re:Sorry, OT... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20567223)

There went my last cup of milk, right through my nose. Thanks to you, I need to recopy this Chemistry homework.

Re:Sorry, OT... (3, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#20567365)

Don't worry, NONE of those digits are significant, since the ACTUAL temperature of a blast furnace is around [wikipedia.org] 2000-2300 degrees C. I certainly remember the kilns at the cement plant my dad worked at used to get up to around 1900 C. 600 degrees is nothing as far as furnaces are concerned, although it's more than your oven can do.

Sunshine (1)

kylehase (982334) | about 7 years ago | (#20567041)

This is probably what they used on the spacecraft in the movie Sunshine [imdb.com] .

What will you use for interconnects? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20567073)

Presumably the chip has to sit on some type of circuit board, connected to other components.

So it's OK if the chip survives but the rest of the circuit melts?

Venus Lander! (3, Insightful)

Derling Whirvish (636322) | about 7 years ago | (#20567127)

Maybe we can finally get a decent lander or rover on Venus.

Re:Venus Lander! (1)

vought (160908) | about 7 years ago | (#20567761)

Maybe we can finally get a decent lander or rover on Venus.


Maybe we can even get a descent lander.

Venus: Here we come! (2, Funny)

chris_sawtell (10326) | about 7 years ago | (#20567195)

Venus darling, Please don't get alarmed, but those wretched Earthlings have made a super-dooper hot-stuff control whatsit. You'd better watch out because from what I hear that super-hot atmospheric condom of your's isn't going to protect you from frequent and repeated penetration much longer. Sorry to be such a harbinger, but I just thought you ought to know. Haved a chat to Mars, he knows all about what they get up to.

But will we be able to build a fanless PC from it? (2, Interesting)

siyavash (677724) | about 7 years ago | (#20567209)

It's nice and all but will we be able to build a fanless PC from it? Although I'm not sure how fast the PC would operate if it could be allowed to get that hot?

Blast furnace temperatures (1)

teuluPaul (731293) | about 7 years ago | (#20567355)

The claim to be able to withstand blast furnace temperatures may be over stated. The process of producing iron from a blast furnace generates temperatures in the range of 900C to 1300 C, well in excess of those in which this chip is claimed to survive. See wikipedia [wikipedia.org] for more information.

My first questions (2, Insightful)

artifex2004 (766107) | about 7 years ago | (#20567403)

Have they got a carrier or other method of holding it to a circuit board that will stand up to that heat? Speaking of, have they got circuit boards that stand up to that heat? And obviously solder can't be used. So how will they interconnect? Glass fiber may melt at higher temps, but I'll bet the optical properties distort well before then, considering it glows when it gets hot enough. Not to mention they have to make the emitters and receivers withstand that temp as well.

Re:My first questions (3, Informative)

GloomE (695185) | about 7 years ago | (#20567745)

Not all circuit boards are glass fiber.
Ceramics are already used where you need precision e.g. wave guides.

Columbia... (1)

newgalactic (840363) | about 7 years ago | (#20567517)

Is this so "black boxes" will still function upon a failed reentry?

SiC is an active area of research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20567721)

I see SiC research papers mostly in power electronics, especially very high voltage devices.

Here's the first useful google hit with an overview of SiC tech:

Google cache of .doc [64.233.167.104]

Will help in hot countries! (1)

cheros (223479) | about 7 years ago | (#20567763)

Anywhere you run a PC where it's above room temperature you've got cooling issues - if this gets to a sensible price you could do away with a lot of gadgetry that has to be added to keep things like servers working.

I'm also thinking of SCADA deployment in dry and dusty places - less parts means more reliability.

Or as the Kiwi's would say: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20567861)

That's like, fully SiC bro!

In related news.... (2, Funny)

NerveGas (168686) | about 7 years ago | (#20567963)


    Intel re-released the Pentium-D line, using this technology.

the packaging... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20568021)

the limiting factor with Si is infact the packaging AND that is going to be the limiting factor with SiC operating temp as well

NASA are right in saying that Silicon can operate at 350C but that is the exposed die that isn't on any substrate and using spring-point connections
Start packaging the thing up and you have the die solder down onto something, solder wires onto the die and it is these things that put the operating temp at 125C

Semikron have IGBT modules that they say can operate upto a die temp of 175 simply because they have got a method of not using solder to bond the die down and they use spring-points todo the electronic/electrical connections all allowing the temp to be risen

Sure SiC "may" be able to operate at some nice high temps BUT there are NO!!!! packaging available to take advantage of this!!! and thus the max temp comes crashing down to the nice 175 (or 125 depending if you can/cant use some of the more advance bonding methods)

This is again all pie in the sky stuff anyway... The problem is SiC is a bitch to grow and their yield is very low due to micro-piping occurring in the wafers making them useless.
Not only that they have only just been able to make a switch!!! SiC diodes have existed for a few years now and for custom modules you can get an inverter brick with SiC diodes and they have only just been able to make a JFET out of SiC that is low voltage/current/switching-speed....

So much so that quite a few semiconductor makers have invested alot into diamond (cause when it grows it grows just as good as silicon, just slow... oh they aint figured out a way to dope it yet ;)).

Re:the packaging... (1)

jank1887 (815982) | about 7 years ago | (#20569091)

close very close.p> the limiting factor for silicon is loss of junction action as more carriers get thermally promoted to the conduction band. typically right around 200C, the intrinsic carrier concentration overtakes the typical doped carrier density. But, you start getting increased leakage currents and higher current gain well below that. Depending on the type of transistors used, latch-up failure becomes more likely. the prime factor affecting what temp things start going bad is the amount of doping used. Increase doping, you can run a little hotter. But, it decreases the voltage breakdown limit, forcing you to de-rate.

yields are the big limiter right now. MOS devices are attacking oxide trap problems similar to silicon research in the 70's. manufacturers are demoing 1200V, 50A JFET's. they're getting there, but the device technology is a lot further along than other power device options (GaN, diamond, etc.) But those others are getting a lot of attention as well, especially in Japan.

there are many packaging techniques available to take advantage of high SiC temperatures. None cheap and commonly used, since Silicon can't make use of them, but ceramic boards, non-alloy wirebonds, eutectic die attaches, high temp brazes. they all exist, and have been used, but they're expensive. not-so-aggressive options can get you to 250 without too much trouble. e.g. http://www.honeywell.com/sites/portal?smap=aerospace&page=High-Temp-Electonics3&theme=T5&catID=C82A27CF1-C0F1-76E9-6B52-2C477FB52FF7&id=H5E761CAC-F16E-40AF-B54E-3DFBA7F0A988&sel=1 [honeywell.com]

Singularity just got closer (1)

mattr (78516) | about 7 years ago | (#20568373)

Excellent now we can have a Matryoshka shell of advanced computing equipment orbiting nearer to the sun just like in the (soon to be outdated) scifi novels!

Dissipate 1750 watts.. (1)

mikelang (674146) | about 7 years ago | (#20568399)

According to this spec http://www.tr2tt.com/products/coolers/m15se/m15se.htm [tr2tt.com] , Pentium Prescott could dissipate 1750 watts of power if given temperature that is 500C higher than the ambient.

Figures. NASA is trying to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20568455)

...do something about their ass, which is on fire.

At last! (1)

Flying pig (925874) | about 7 years ago | (#20568547)

I was looking into this in the early 90s (along with the development of diamond as a semiconductor.) We were in fact interested in very robust front ends for things like telecoms systems, that could survive lightning strike or EMP. Here the issue is not to operate at very high temp., but to survive brief excursions to it. The problem with any form of lightning protection is that the sensitive amplifier must be outside the protected area, or how can it get the signal?

In fact SiC has a long history as a semiconductor. Correct me if I'm wrong but I seem to recall buying the stuff from a company near Niagara Falls (needed the cheap hydro electricity for the manufacturing process.) SiC has been used in the past for making voltage dependent resistors, used for protection against really big surges. One of our test rigs had a large steel cabinet, eight feet long and six feet high, containing a stack of carbide blocks with large copper fins between them, and connected to a chimney and a big extract fan. This object could take (and absorb) repetitive surges of half a megajoule, and was used in the simulation of 11KV systems falling onto or otherwise connecting to telecoms and domestic power lines.

Anyway, nostalgia aside, it's nice to know research has continued and SiC can now be made pure enough (and presumably sufficiently defect-free) to build small scale semiconductors. As a complete aside, although hydrogen may form most of the universe, followed up by helium, we wouldn't be anywhere without the elements of valency 4. Carbon, silicon,germanium...it's a slight paradox that starts have to go nova just so that we can evolve and then make semiconductors. If God exists, she's a geek with a strange sense of humor.

End of 3RL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20568605)

Maybe the next version of the Xbox 360 will include this technology to prevent the dreaded 3RL from happening.

Cameras (1)

Archades54 (925582) | about 7 years ago | (#20568623)

I want something like this for camera sensors, would have maybe saved my old Canon Powershot in the Australian heat + Car.

Awesome News! (2, Funny)

sunspot42 (455706) | about 7 years ago | (#20568671)

Now hardware capable of running it is finally available, Duke Nukem Forever should be released any day now!

Re: Heat resistance (1)

ozbird (127571) | about 7 years ago | (#20568703)

In particular, NASA said SiC applications will include energy storage, renewable energy, nuclear power, and electrical drives.

Yeah right. Everyone knows these are just government funding cover stories for the true purpose: extreme overclocking.

Don't bring out the champange just yet. (1)

polaren_p (1155523) | about 7 years ago | (#20569237)

Silicon carbide (SiC), is very difficult do use as a semiconductor due to highly mobile dislocations. These dislocations rapidly increase within the crystal, introducing levels in the bandgap, i.e it's no longer a semiconductor and ultimately the device will fail. However, if the NASA scientists have found a way to lock down the dislocations, which is done when regular silicon semiconductors are produced, there is no questions about the versatility of SiC.
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