What is ‘Resilient Technology’ anyway ?

24 08 2010

Now that the content is flowing, it’s time to describe the background to all this. Resilient technology (in our mind anyway) is the ability to provide a technology solution that will function in any environment, no matter what. This may be a sensor that measures air quality in an underground system that can function after a terrorist incident, or a system for a deep space probe bound for Jupiter, or the surface of Venus. In both cases the ability to produce accurate data is essential.

The next question then, is how?

Silicon based microelectronics is now virtually ubiquitous and has touched our lives. However, silicon is only operable in a narrow range of environments, such as under 175C and away from high levels of radiation. By moving to an alternative semiconductor material, such as silicon carbide, it is possible to extend the operating temperature to over 900C. This opens up a wide range of applications for sensors and electronics, including oil and gas exploration, volcanic eruption prediction, nuclear monitoring (civil and defence) and a wide range of chemical processes. Other challenges include how to power these systems (batteries are no good), how to get the data out (wires may not be acceptable) and how to package the systems. This is where our research is working to provide the answers. As a team we cover a large part of resilient technology, from energy harvesting to RF communications and the results of this work can be seen in the posters in the previous entry.

If you are interested in the potential applications of silicon carbide sensors, have a look at an article published in Physics World, entitled Sensing the Extreme.

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