Semiconductors & ICs

High-Temperature, Distributed Control Using Custom CMOS ASICs

Integrated circuits capable of operating at elevated temperatures are needed in applications including automotive control, turbine engine control, and downhole well logging systems.

Four application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) that provide sensing, actuation, and power conversion capabilities for distributed control in a high-temperature (over 200 °C) environment were developed. The four ASICs are combined with a digital signal processor (DSP) to create a distributed control node. Patented circuit design techniques facilitate fabrication in a conventional 0.5-micron bulk complimentary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) foundry process.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Semiconductors & ICs, Design processes, Integrated circuits, Fabrication
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Electron Beam Writer Enables Microfabrication

Integrated electronics could activate prosthetics.

The new electron beam writer housed in the cleanroom facility at the Qualcomm Institute, previously the UCSD division of the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology, is important for two major areas of research by Shadi Dayeh, PhD, an electrical and computer engineering professor. He is developing next-generation, nanoscale transistors for integrated electronics. At the same time, he is working to develop neural probes that can extract electrical signals from brain cells and transmit the information to a prosthetic device or computer. To achieve this level of signal extraction or manipulation requires tiny sensors spaced very closely together for the highest resolution and signal acquisition. Enter the new electron beam writer. (See Figure 1)

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Implants & Prosthetics, Medical, Patient Monitoring, Optics, Photonics, Semiconductors & ICs, Sensors, Semiconductor devices, Sensors and actuators, Nervous system, Prostheses and implants, Fabrication, Nanotechnology
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Low-Loss Dielectric Materials Improve PC Boards

Low-loss dielectric materials are available. The hydrocarbon- based, fiber-reinforced composite sheets can be applied to printed circuit boards and IC chip packaging. The material has a very low dielectric constant and low dissipation factor up to GHz range frequencies, and is advantageous for emerging high-frequency electronics applications as a printed circuit dielectric sheet.

Posted in: Techs for License, Semiconductors & ICs
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Using Source Measure Units to Characterize High Power Semiconductors

Part 2: OFF-State Characterization

Part 1 of this article, which appeared in the August 2013 issue of NASA Tech Briefs, dealt with ON-state characterization of high power semiconductors (link to Part 1). Part 2 concludes this discussion with an overview of OFF-state characterization.

OFF-State Characterization

The impact of the device on the overall circuit when the device is turned off must be investigated to understand overall product efficiency. For high-power devices, OFF-state characterization often requires a high-voltage instrument capable of sourcing hundreds or thousands of volts and measuring small currents. OFF-state characterization is often performed between two device terminals (regardless of the total number of device terminals), so a single SMU is often sufficient. However, an additional SMU can be used to force the device into its OFF state or add stress to certain terminals. Two primary DC tests are performed when the device is off: breakdown voltages and leakage currents.

Posted in: Articles, Semiconductors & ICs, Measurements, Materials properties, Semiconductors
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NASA Rocket Mission Will Predict Earth's Electrical Storms

A NASA-funded sounding rocket mission will launch from an atoll in the Pacific. The mission will help scientists better understand and predict the electrical storms in Earth's upper atmosphere. Storms interfere with satellite communication and global positioning signals.

Posted in: Homepage, Semiconductors & ICs
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Record Efficiency for Next-Generation Solar Cells

Researchers from the University of Toronto (U of T) and King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) have made a breakthrough in the development of colloidal quantum dot (CQD) films. The researchers created a solar cell out of inexpensive materials that was certified at a world-record 7.0% efficiency.

Posted in: News, News, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Nanotechnology, Semiconductors & ICs
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Detecting Contaminants in Water

Many organic contaminants in the air and in drinking water need to be detected at very low-level concentrations. Research published by the laboratory of Prashant V. Kamat, the John A. Zahm Professor of Science at the University of Notre Dame, could be beneficial in detecting those contaminants.

Posted in: News, News, Environmental Monitoring, Metals, Semiconductors & ICs, Detectors, Sensors
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Thermally Resilient, Broadband Optical Absorber From UV to IR Derived From Carbon Nanostructures

This technology can be used in aerospace, semiconductors, antireflection coatings, optoelectronics, and communications.

Optical absorber coatings have been developed from carbon-based paints, metal blacks, or glassy carbon. However, such materials are not truly black and have poor absorption characteristics at longer wavelengths. The blackness of such coatings is important to increase the accuracy of calibration targets used in radiometric imaging spectrometers since blackbody cavities are prohibitively large in size. Such coatings are also useful potentially for thermal detectors, where a broadband absorber is desired. Au-black has been a commonly used broadband optical absorber, but it is very fragile and can easily be damaged by heat and mechanical vibration. An optically efficient, thermally rugged absorber could also be beneficial for thermal solar cell applications for energy harnessing, particularly in the 350–2,500 nm spectral window.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Semiconductors & ICs, Imaging and visualization, Optics, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Nanotechnology
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Verilog-A Device Models for Cryogenic Temperature Operation of Bulk Silicon CMOS Devices

These models can be used in cryogenic electronics applications such as cooled imagers and sensors, medical electronics, and remote sensing satellites.

Verilog-A based cryogenic bulk CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) compact models are built for state-of-the-art silicon CMOS processes. These models accurately predict device operation at cryogenic temperatures down to 4 K. The models are compatible with commercial circuit simulators. The models extend the standard BSIM4 [Berkeley Short-channel IGFET (insulated-gate field-effect transistor ) Model] type compact models by re-parameterizing existing equations, as well as adding new equations that capture the physics of device operation at cryogenic temperatures. These models will allow circuit designers to create optimized, reliable, and robust circuits operating at cryogenic temperatures.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Information Sciences, Semiconductors & ICs, Computer simulation, Mathematical models, Semiconductor devices, Thermal management
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Magnetic Testing Technique Helps Ensure Reliability of PV Cells

Making use of the force generated by magnetic repulsion, Georgia Tech researchers have developed a new technique for measuring the adhesion strength between thin films of materials used in microelectronic devices, photovoltaic cells, and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).

Posted in: News, News, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, MEMs, Semiconductors & ICs, Test & Measurement
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