Prototype logic gates made of n-channel junction field-effect transistors (JFETs) and epitaxial resistors have been demonstrated, with a view toward eventual implementation of digital logic devices and systems in silicon carbide (SiC) integrated circuits (ICs). This development is intended to exploit the inherent ability of SiC electronic devices to function at temperatures from 300 to somewhat above 500 °C and withstand large doses of ionizing radiation. SiC-based digital logic devices and systems could enable operation of sensors and robots in nuclear reactors, in jet engines, near hydrothermal vents, and in other environments that are so hot or radioactive as to cause conventional silicon electronic devices to fail.
At present, current needs for digital processing at high temperatures exceed SiC integrated circuit production capabilities, which do not allow for highly integrated circuits. Only single to small number component production of depletion mode n-channel JFETs and epitaxial resistors on a single substrate is possible. As a consequence, the fine matching of components is impossible, resulting in rather large direct-current parameter distributions within a group of transistors typically spanning multiples of 5 to 10. Add to this the lack of p-channel devices to complement the n-channel FETs, the lack of precise dropping diodes, and the lack of enhancement mode devices at these elevated temperatures and the use of conventional direct coupled and buffered direct coupled logic gate design techniques is impossible.
The presented logic gate design is tolerant of device parameter distributions and is not hampered by the lack of complementary devices or dropping diodes. In addition to n-channel JFETs, these gates include level-shifting and load resistors (see figure). Instead of relying on precise matching of parameters among individual JFETS, these designs rely on choosing the values of these resistors and of supply potentials so as to make the circuits perform the desired functions throughout the ranges over which the parameters of the JFETs are distributed. The supply rails Vdd and Vss and the resistors R are chosen as functions of the distribution of direct-current operating parameters of the group of transistors used.
This work was done by Michael J. Krasowski of Glenn Research Center.
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