A microchip which can withstand temperatures of up to 300 degrees Celsius has been successfully developed.
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems (IMS) have developed a new type of high-temperature process which means that the compact microchips require no additional cooling in order to withstand the intense heat.
“It becomes possible with this process to fabricate extremely compact microchips that operate flawlessly even at temperatures of up to 300 degrees Celsius,” explained Holger Kappert, head of high-temperature electronics at Fraunhofer IMS.
While conventional semiconductor chips can sometimes tolerate temperatures of up to 250 degrees Celsius, the institute notes that the heat still causes a rapid drop in performance and reliability.
“[Existing] solutions available are always associated with certain trade-offs: either they have comparatively large components, or they function with limited performance,” Kappert added.
Measuring 0.35µm, Fraunhofer IMS’ chips are said to be “considerably smaller” than existing high-temperature chips on the market.
While use below ground is a possible area of adoption for technology, due to the increasing heat applied to drills and devices as they approach the Earth’s core, production of geothermal energy, natural gas or oil is said to not be the only area of potential application.
The microchips are cited as a possible boon for the aviation industry, for instance by enabling sensors to be placed as close as possible to turbine engines.
The close placement could allow the turbines to be operated more reliably and efficiently, saving fuel and therefore making aviation more environmentally friendly.
The first field tests of the new chips are said to have been positive, with the researchers said to be targeting the ability to offer the fabrication process as a service later this year.