UV solar-blind imaging is required for scientific study of the sun and its influence on the earth. In this application, the high performance of existing silicon CMOS and CCD sensors in the visible and near infrared is a detriment as it forces the use of long wavelength blocking filters that also attenuate in the UV. The wide bandgap of SiC sensors make them inherently insensitive to wavelengths longer than the UV. UV imaging and spectroscopy is also useful for in-situ detection of trace amounts of organic and other materials on planetary missions. (R. Bharita et al, Deep UV Native Fluorescene and Resonance Raman Imaging Spectroscopy for In-situ Organic Detection.) NASA related applications for the SiC IC technology include high temperature electronics for aircraft engine control and electronics for the exploration of Venus.
The UV solar-blind sensors developed in this program would be directly applicable to important defense applications such as missile warning systems. Electromagnetic storm prediction using solar-blind UV sensors has considerable commercial value due to the modern reliance on electrical distribution. Furthermore, the underlying SiC integrated circuit fabrication technology has applications in high temperature electronics for geothermal and oil & gas down-hole well logging, aircraft and automotive engine control, industrial machine control, and control of power electronics systems.