Microsemi in Bristol, UK, is working with the Universities of Bristol and Southamton in a £1m (€1.2m) NEMICA project to use nanoelectromechanical (NEM) designs in high temperature environments such as power supplies. The three year project aims to develop memories and field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) that can operate first at 175°C and then at 225°C using micromachined switches. The NEM technology was developed with IBM Zurich and ST Microelectronics to build miniature relays for handling control logic that can run at lower voltages and higher temperatures than traditional silicon devices.
"We are pleased to be part of this top-tier collaboration as our collective group looks to develop industry-leading reprogrammable memories and gate arrays based on nanoelectromechanical technology that are capable of withstanding long-term exposure to high temperatures and harsh environmental conditions," said Jim Aralis, chief technology officer and vice president of advanced development at Microsemi.
Using NEM will avoid the need to place the control electronics in a cooler environment, allowing it to be closer to the sensors and actuators and eliminating the need for high temperature connection systems, interfaces, signal conditioning and protection. "Through our collaborative efforts, we will aim to move the electronics closer to the point of measurement and control, overcoming these historical challenges and enabling new capabilities and applications," said Siobhan Dolan Clancy, vice president and general manager of Microsemi's Discrete Products Group. "These technological advancements will be well-suited to a variety of applications including aircraft actuators and other applications in space, transport and drilling.”