Space qualified, high voltage/high temperature power electronics is directly aligned, per the NASA Space Power and Energy Storage Roadmap - Technology Area (TA) 03, with science and exploration missions such as: missions using electric propulsion, robotic missions, lunar exploration missions to Near Earth Orbit (NEO), robotic surface missions to Venus and Europa, polar Mars missions and Moon missions, and others. A higher operating voltage can yield a lower distribution system weight for the same power level and is highly desirable across many areas of PMAD. SiC devices offer higher breakdown voltage, lower switching losses, and increased temperature tolerance, all crucial features for NASA space power applications. The hardened SiC designs from this project will add to the NASA components library. The TA 03 roadmap identifies the development of analytical models and predictive tools to model and characterize power and energy storage systems as a Cross-Cutting Technology which will provide capability to all NASA missions that require power. Specifically highlighted is the need for physics-based models of power-related components. The modeling and analysis tools developed here directly address this need, and will help NASA better evaluate device performance under radiation and high temperature at an early stage, and design space qualified power electronics with better understanding and control of design margins, thereby reducing the development time and cost.
Space qualified SiC power electronics will find application in power systems in all space-based platforms, including DoD space systems (communication, surveillance, missile defense), and commercial satellites. High voltage SiC power devices, through applications in inverters, high-voltage converters, motor drives, and switch mode power supplies, also offer significant performance benefits to power systems in other market sectors. These include national defense systems such as unmanned underwater vehicles (AUVs) and soldier portable power systems. Applications in the terrestrial energy sector include PMAD systems in all-electric and hybrid cars, grid-scale energy storage systems, smart grid, green energy systems (wind/solar systems), solid-state lighting, and remote, off-grid power systems (crewed vehicles and habitats). Other commercial applications of SiC include high temperature power and control systems for extreme environments such as geothermal drill sites and sensor systems in engines of aircraft and hybrid vehicles. For all the applications listed above, physics-based predictive and accurate modeling and design tools reduce the amount of required radiation/temperature testing, thus decreasing their cost, and time to market or field application.