Ozark IC Team wins DARPA HOTS Award to Develop a High-Speed, High-Temperature Sensor System

A 6-member team, led by Ozark IC, has been selected for a DARPA HOTS award to develop an 800ºC electronic pressure sensing system that will raise the system performance by a factor of 1000 over existing solutions
High-Temperature silicon carbide wafer with Ozark IC designed integrated circuits (Photo courtesy of General Electric Aerospace Research Center)
High-Temperature silicon carbide wafer with Ozark IC designed integrated circuits (Photo courtesy of General Electric Aerospace Research Center)

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS April 2024 – A 6-member team led by Ozark Integrated Circuits Inc. (Ozark IC) in Fayetteville, AR, has been selected for a $10.9M, three-year DARPA HOTS award. The award will allow the team to develop a high-speed (1 MHz), high-temperature (up to 800ºC) electronic pressure sensing system – which represents orders of magnitude speed increase over the current state-of-the art.

DARPA’s HOTS (High Operational Temperature Sensors) Program https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2023-05-12 is a premier program with its major aim to “develop microelectronic sensor technologies capable of high-bandwidth, high-dynamic-range sensing at extreme temperatures” which are critical for emerging high-speed aerospace systems, especially hypersonic flight systems. The Proposer’s Day, held on May 31, 2023, in Washington, DC, attracted about 130 attendees.

The HOTS program consists of three significant and simultaneous challenges, each of them extremely difficult on their own: operation at 2 orders-of-magnitude better performance over the state-of-the-art at the very high temperature of 800⁰C without thermal management and a short development time (3 years) to create it. The aggressive timeline put a significant emphasis on the use of existing capabilities rather than long-term research. The team developed a unique and complex approach to meet all three challenges – consistent with DARPA’s mission “to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security”. https://www.darpa.mil/about-us/mission

The Ozark IC team consists of:

  • Ozark IC
  • RTX (Raytheon Technologies Research Center and Raytheon Advanced Technology)
  • GE Aerospace Research Center (GEA)
  • IC2 (Interdisciplinary Consulting Corp)
  • NASA Glenn Research Center (NASA GRC)
  • US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)

Ozark IC, as program lead, is managing the system integration as well as electronics design, process integration and extreme environment packaging. Ozark IC will work closely with its partners who will provide the high-speed pressure sensor (IC2), the fabrication of the devices and integrated circuits (RTX, GEA), and specialized materials and characterization (NASA, NRL).

Significance of the Project:

The HOTS program, like many DARPA programs, aims to advance the state of the art: not incrementally, but by orders of magnitude.

The Ozark IC solution, referred to as SPOTS (Single-chip Pressure-Sensor on Thermally-Hardened SiC:GaN) advances the state of the art by combining the ruggedness of NASA Glenn pioneered silicon carbide (SiC) chip technology with the high-performance of gallium nitride (GaN) and other advanced materials. This marks a new era in high-temperature (HT) electronics and integration methods, at the semiconductor level, where very high frequency performance is made possible through utilizing new materials in a manufacturable way – from analog to RF and digital.

The effect of this technology will be revolutionary in a wide range of applications and markets, not just the DoD and hypersonic applications:

  • Jet engines can be lighter, smaller and better maintained
  • Engines (ships, tanks, cars, etc.) can be lighter, smaller and better maintained
  • Energy exploration can work deeper and hotter
  • Next-generation nuclear reactors can be safer and better maintained and monitored

These are just some of the benefits.

A whole new, safer high-temperature world awaits.

Dr. A. Matt Francis, CEO and Founder of Ozark IC, said, “In many ways this project is the culmination of over a decade of work at Ozark IC and at our partners to open up new frontiers for electronics. We are naturally thrilled with this award, and we are very grateful to DARPA for the faith they have shown in this amazing team. The support we have received from the team members, and others, has been overwhelming and is greatly appreciated. This is the largest award Ozark IC has received in its 13-year history and we are naturally looking forward to this project and see great things happening as a result.”

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Hugh McDonald, said “This award demonstrates that Arkansas companies compete at the highest level in advancing the state of the art. We build some of the most advanced aerospace, aviation and defense products in the US, and the advanced electronics being developed by Ozark IC and its partners can enable the next generations.”

Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3) said, “Ozark IC’s leadership in putting this team together and winning this ground-breaking award is an excellent example of the innovative research happening in the Third District. The technology they are developing will greatly impact jet and hypersonic engine capabilities. This award reflects the importance of these revolutionary systems. It’s great to see these organizations, large and small businesses, and government laboratories coming together to build this research and development partnership in the Natural State.”

Dr. David Mills, President of IC2, said, “The HOTS program is the next logical step for our high-performance pressure sensors – an integrated platform for ultra-high-temperature, miniaturized sensors and electronics. This will open up new applications and markets for us, and we’re very excited to be part of the Ozark IC team!”

Colin Whelan, President of Advanced Technology at Raytheon, said, “Extreme temperature condition sensing is critical to the operation of military and commercial aircraft. Jet engine and hypersonic vehicle’s operating temperatures well-exceed the capability of today’s sensors in vital locations. In partnership with Ozark IC, RTX is leveraging our enterprise-wide expertise and our III/V semiconductor foundry to develop sensors that deliver accurate state-of-health monitoring and enable closed-loop system control for improved fuel efficiency, operability and lethality.”

Stacey Kennerly, Technology Manager, Semiconductors, GE Aerospace Research, said, “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Ozark IC to develop the next generation of high temperature electronics to support defense needs and transform the future of flight. As we look to advance hypersonic propulsion and push the boundaries of space exploration, we will need the kind of ruggedized sensors and electronics that the DARPA HOTS program is driving.”

About Ozark Integrated Circuits Inc.

Ozark Integrated Circuits, Inc (Fayetteville, AR) was founded in 2011. Ozark IC’s mission is to “digitize” the next frontiers - extreme environments that are very hot or cold, with extreme vibration and shock. Ozark IC’s eXtreme Node® (or XNode®) single board computers can operate in the extreme conditions experienced in Energy Exploration, Aerospace, Space Exploration and Industrial Controls. Ozark IC’s strategy and technology have led industry watchers to recognize Ozark IC as a disruptive player in the electronics & embedded computing marketplaces. https://www.ozarkic.com/

About GE Aerospace

GE Aerospace (NYSE: GE) is a global aerospace propulsion, services, and systems leader with an installed base of approximately 44,000 commercial and 26,000 military aircraft engines. With a global team of 52,000 employees building on more than a century of innovation and learning, GE Aerospace is committed to inventing the future of flight, lifting people up, and bringing them home safely. Learn more about how GE Aerospace and its partners are defining flight for today, tomorrow and the future at www.geaerospace.com.

About IC2

Founded in 2001 and located in Gainesville, FL, IC2 (Interdisciplinary Consulting Corporation) offers a variety of miniaturized sensors, data acquisition systems, and other innovative precision instrumentation solutions for the global test and measurement community. IC2's products, including DirectShear™ wall shear stress sensors and MHzPressure™ dynamic pressure sensors, provide unparalleled accuracy and performance. For more information, visit https://www.thinkic2.com.

About RTX

With more than 185,000 global employees, RTX pushes the limits of technology and science to redefine how we connect and protect our world. Through industry-leading businesses – Collins Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, and Raytheon – we are advancing aviation, engineering integrated defense systems, and developing next-generation technology solutions and manufacturing to help global customers address their most critical challenges. The company, with 2023 sales of $69 billion, is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. https://www.rtx.com

About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

NRL is a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps from the seafloor to space and in the information domain. NRL is located in Washington, D.C. with major field sites in Stennis Space Center, Mississippi; Key West, Florida; Monterey, California, and employs approximately 3,000 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel. https://www.nrl.navy.mil


If you would like more information about this topic, please call Ian Getreu at +1 (503) 888-2372 or email Getreu@OzarkIC.com

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