A technique for simulating extreme-temperature operation of integrated circuits that incorporate silicon carbide (SiC) junction field-effect transistors (JFETs) has been developed. The technique involves modification of NGSPICE, which is an open-source version of the popular Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis (SPICE) general-purpose analog-integrated-circuit-simulating software. NGSPICE in its unmodified form is used for simulating and designing circuits made from silicon-based transistors that operate at or near room temperature.

Two rapid modifications of NGSPICE source code enable SiC JFETs to be simulated to 500 °C using the well-known “Level 1” model for silicon metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs). First, the default value of the MOSFET surface potential must be changed. In the unmodified source code, this parameter has a value of 0.6, which corresponds to slightly more than half the bandgap of silicon. In NGSPICE modified to simulate SiC JFETs, this parameter is changed to a value of 1.6, corresponding to slightly more than half the bandgap of SiC. The second modification consists of changing the temperature dependence of MOSFET transconductance and saturation parameters. The unmodified NGSPICE source code implements a T–1.5 temperature dependence for these parameters. In order to mimic the temperature behavior of experimental SiC JFETs, a T–1.3 temperature dependence must be implemented in the NGSPICE source code.

Following these two simple modifications, the “Level 1” MOSFET model of the NGSPICE circuit simulation program reasonably approximates the measured high-temperature behavior of experimental SiC JFETs properly operated with zero or reverse bias applied to the gate terminal. Modification of additional silicon parameters in the NGSPICE source code was not necessary to model experimental SiC JFET current-voltage performance across the entire temperature range from 25 to 500 °C.

This work was done by Philip G. Neudeck of Glenn Research Center.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steve Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. Refer to LEW-18342-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the December, 2008 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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