CoolCAD Electronics proposes the development of a silicon carbide (SiC) based motor controller suitable for most stepper motors. The silicon carbide motor controller will be designed and fabricated to operate at extremely high temperature and high radiation environments, beyond the reach of a typical silicon-based motor controller.
To demonstrate a successful SiC motor controller, we will fabricate SiC power devices as well as SiC gate drivers. At the component level, we will characterize their electrical and physical properties. Simultaneously, we will design and fabricate SiC CMOS integrated circuits such as control logic and timing circuitry. At the board level, will minimize gate driver parasitics, EMI and noise issues, as well as detect and mitigate faults. At the module level, we will design a proof-of-concept SiC motor controller, operable at high temperatures, and will test the controller’s electrical and thermal performances under a wide variety of loading conditions.
At high temperatures, silicon has an abundance of intrinsic carriers, resulting in a loss of junction control and preventing proper device operation. For bulk silicon electronics, the threshold beyond which device control is lost is approximately 175C. Our SiC CMOS technology has been shown to operate at high temperatures as high as 500C.
Ultimately, our proposal addresses a niche application that cannot be addressed by silicon. This is achieved by combining our high temperature and radiation tolerant silicon carbide low voltage integrated circuit technology, with a silicon carbide based power device. Specifically, our proposal focuses on high temperature capable designs in order to meet the power requirements for robotic science probes and instrumentation.
The proposed technology has the potential to extend the exploration capabilities and survivability of robotic systems in harsh environments such as those present on the surface of Venus and in the atmospheres of gas giants. Venus lander missions call for systems that operate above 400C, beyond the reach of silicon. The high temperature tolerant ICs and power devices that we design and fabricate offer a solution for extending operational capabilities and mission lifetimes.
Our SiC IC and power solution for space applications offers the same weight reduction and efficiency gains for other spacecraft, and therefore we expect the outcomes of this proposal to benefit the larger community including private satellite and space companies such as SpaceX. Additionally, terrestrial high temperature applications such as drill monitoring would benefit from this as well.