Course − Electronics for Low-Temperature and High-Temperature Environments

Background Applications for electronics are continually expanding into new areas which expose it to hostile environments, in particular to temperatures considerably outside the conventional "room-temperature" range. There are a number of applications, present and future, for electronics in such "extreme-temperature" environments, including automobiles, aircraft, spacecraft, cryogenic plants, food processing, and well logging.

These environments may subject the electronics to temperatures as low as nearly absolute zero (−273°C) or as high as 300°C or above. This presents a serious challenge for the designer, since electronic components are usually rated for temperatures between −55°C and +125°C at best.

Fortunately there is experience to draw on: electronics has been operated at the temperature extremes mentioned above. Like "room-temperature" electronics, this "extreme-temperature" electronics has been based on familiar semiconductor devices, primarily of silicon or gallium arsenide, although more advanced materials such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride are being investigated. The designer of this electronics must consider temperature range, circuit complexity, resources, and other factors; a basic decision being whether the requirements warrant custom design and fabrication or whether available commercial components will serve.

Course Description

This course will (1) overview the status of electronics for operation in very cold (below approximately −100�C) and hot (above approximately +150°C) environments, (2) present examples of applications and electronics in such extreme-temperature environments, (3) describe the behavior of electronic materials and components at low and high temperatures (4) address the "make-or-buy" question. Course notes can be provided.

The course content, organization, and length can be adjusted to suit the client. Suggested length is between 3 and 8 hours. Contact the instructor for further information.

Example of Course Content

• Introduction and description.

• Needs for low- and high-temperature electronics with application examples.

• Brief review of materials behavior (conductors, insulators, semiconductors, electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, thermal expansion) as temperature is lowered and raised.

• Behavior of passive electronic components (resistors and capacitors, discrete, thin-film and thick-film) as temperature is lowered and raised.

• Behavior of active electronic devices (diodes, transistors, ICs) as temperature is lowered and raised.

• Assembly techniques and materials (wirebonding, soldering and brazing, adhesives).

• Temperature capabilities and limitations of electronic components and assemblies.

• Reliability & Aging

• Availability of components and systems for low and high temperature.

• Resources for further information.

The Instructor

Randall Kirschman received the Ph.D. in Physics and Electrical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1972. He was on the staff of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and later managed the Processing Laboratory at the R&D Center of Eaton Corporation--Electronic Instrumentation Division. Since 1982 he has been in private practice, consulting to industry, government and academe in the areas of microelectronic materials, assembly and packaging technology, and electronics for extreme temperatures. He has consulted and held academic positions in six countries and has edited two books: Low-Temperature Electronics and High-Temperature Electronics.


Most recent update: 9 April 2003

Copyright © 2003 by Randall K. Kirschman. All rights reserved.
Valid HTML 4.01!