GE Research Sets New Record for Heat-Resistant Transistor
GE Research photo
ARLINGTON, Virginia — A research lab has developed a transistor that can withstand temperatures of up to 800 degrees Celsius.
GE Research, a part of GE Aerospace, has developed a silicon carbide metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor, which helps control electrical power components. The ability to withstand temperatures almost 200 degrees higher than traditional versions of the component — better known to engineers as SiC MOSFETs — will allow them to perform better on hypersonic and space vehicles, company officials said in an interview.
Emad Andarawis, principal engineer for GE Research, said one application for the transistor will be for planetary exploration, specifically high temperatures and pressures found on Venus. GE Research has been working with NASA to develop the technology. It would allow the agency to thoroughly study the planet’s composition and structure of its surface without destroying the transistor.
Another application of interest to the military would be hypersonic vehicles, which must withstand high temperatures as atmospheric friction causes them to overheat, said Todd Alhart, innovation communications director for GE Research.
GE Aerospace has worked with SiC technology for more than three decades, selling various SiC-based electrical power products for aerospace, industrial and military applications, according to a press release.
Alhart said: “One of the key milestones that enabled this breakthrough were some materials that are used in the SiC MOSFETS that had been kind of an impediment to going to higher temperatures. But our team has really figured out some new innovations, new material innovation, that has helped us to kind of move beyond that barrier and into this 800 degrees Celsius realm.”
The lab is also looking at using it in its engines, he said. “We’re excited about the application space and to see where this goes,” Alhart added.
Andarawis said the company is exploring other applications. “We don’t know what could be done with it. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to keep going forward and even beyond.”