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Integrated Silicon Carbide Electronics for Venus Surface Actuation

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC18P2089
Agency Tracking Number: 181268
Amount: $123,839.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: S4
Solicitation Number: SBIR_18_P1
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2018
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-07-27
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2019-02-15
Small Business Information
700 West Research Center Boulevard, Fayetteville, AR, 72701-7175
DUNS: 967759924
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Anthony Francis
 (479) 575-1600
Business Contact
 Matt Francis
Phone: (479) 409-5201
Research Institution

NASA has demonstrated a resolve for a flagship mission in the coming years to revisit Venus and land instruments on the surface. Venus has a corrosive, high-pressure (~100 bar), high-temperature (470°C) environment. A motor drive is the major theme that runs through the most critical needs for optimum geological and atmospheric exploration on Venus.

An electronically-controlled motor, operating at 470°C/100 bar, is the single most significant demonstration of the ability to perform robotic Venus surface exploration and the ultimate objective of the project.


The ultimate outcome will be the first integrated motor drive subsystem suitable for the Venus surface.

The project will combine Honeybee Robotics’ DC motors with the JFET-R silicon carbide (SiC) technology developed by the NASA Glenn Research Center.  Ozark IC’s high-temperature process design kit (PDK) for the JFET-R technology will be used to design an integrated stepper motor driver that can be serially controlled.  Proof of concept will be demonstrated through prototyping, utilizing circuits designed by Ozark IC and fabricated by NASA Glenn.  System performance will be estimated through high-fidelity simulation.  The motor technology, packaging approach and SiC devices have been previously demonstrated to be operable at Venus surface temperatures, so combining these technologies is the next natural step in enabling actuation in these harsh environmental conditions.

The Objectives of Phase I are to Determine:

  1. What is the ideal device topology for the motor drive and what voltage/current range can be achieved? 
  2. What chipset configuration and packaging technologies minimize system power and mass? 
  3. What performance can be expected from the proposed integrated motor + control module and how can it be used?


* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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