In the Phase I effort of this this work, we will commence the development of a power conversion modular platform for very high temperature (500C) and high-level radiation environments. We will design, simulate and fabricate key components of this configurable platform. We will also prototype a specific implementation of this power conversion platform as an example application for near term space missions. The platform is based on the nascent wide bandgap semiconductor Silicon Carbide that can operate at temperatures far greater than the capabilities of silicon-based electronics. Silicon is typically rated to 220C maximum, whereas CoolCAD has fabricated MOS SiC transistors and circuits that operate above 500C, which will be utilized in this new modular platform. To realize this power conversion platform, we will design and fabricate SiC Power Transistor converter topologies, consisting of half-bridges and full bridges, as well as control electronics, into easy-to-use modular components. Multiple high temperature SiC power switching transistors (LDMOSFETs) will be integrated onto a single chip to form an easy-to-use power block. SiC high temperature CMOS control electronics that regulate the output DC distribution bus voltage while being able to supply the load current demand, will be integrated into a control component. These two modules will be relatively easy to couple together to form a complete modular power platform. Finally, in a subsequent effort, we plan to integrate the control and power electronics onto a single die that can operate at high temperature. Of course, under certain circumstances, power levels will not allow for integration into the space of a single die. Under these circumstances, the various power converter modules will be connected on a high temperature printed circuit board (PCB). The modularity and integration of SiC components will significantly streamline NASA’s power converter development efforts for future space missions.
Harsh environment SiC power converters have wide applications in (a) spacecraft power management, (b) DC distribution systems in Venus/Mercury/Mars exploration, (c) motor drives, inverters and power supply derivatives in the Space Station, satellite power systems, and (d) motor drives in 'more electric' technology applied to aircraft generators and reusable launch vehicles. SiC technology find unique applications in harsh environment CMOS-based control, driver integrated circuits and sensors, where regular Si technology cannot operate.
Applications of high temperature (500C) harsh environment SiC power electronics include, (a) automotive engine control, (b) power management systems in ground/naval/air vehicles (c) electrical actuator and motors drives in jet engines, (d) compressors in geothermal energy, (e) deep-well drilling telemetry modules and electric actuation in gas turbines, (f) smart high-temperature sensors.