Ozark Integrated Circuits Success Story
SituationOzark Integrated Circuits, Inc. is rapidly making a name for itself among the small number of companies able to create complex integrated circuits and electronic systems capable of surviving in extreme environments. The semiconductor company, which is headquartered at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park, spun out of research led by University of Arkansas Distinguished Professor Alan Mantooth and was supported by the National Science Foundation Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The company’s expertise consists of designing analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits for extreme environments, including high and low temperatures — from the freezing point of gasoline to the melting point of aluminum — humidity, vibration, high voltage, radiation, etc.
CHALLENGEIn 2015, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) wanted a reliable ultraviolet imager to study the environment on Venus. NASA aims to outperform probes from Russia, which only lasted a few hours on Venus before failing due to the extremely high temperatures.
SolutionOzark Integrated Circuits proposed creating both a microcontroller and an ultraviolet imager using silicon carbide. The two proposals were awarded, totaling $245,000 from the Small Business Innovation Research Program to conduct a feasibility study consisting of a simulation-based design of the products. The ultraviolet imager was then selected for funding with $750,000 and is currently being tested.
ResultsSince acquiring the NASA award for electronics for future Venus missions, Ozark Integrated Circuits won several additional grants from NASA to facilitate further exploration of Venus. The company has also won three $155,000 grants from the Department of Energy: two to provide integrated circuits on data collection systems in geothermal wells, and the third to develop ultraviolet sensors for high-energy physics (neutrino detectors). Most notably, Ozark Integrated Circuits secured a $1 million grant for research on high-temperature geothermal monitoring technology from the Department of Energy. Additionally, Ozark Integrated Circuits was awarded a $750,000 award from the U.S. Air Force to work with them to develop electronics packaging and assembly systems for controls in jet engines that can operate at temperatures up to 300 degrees Celsius. According to the Global Rugged IC Market 2018-2022 report, Ozark Integrated Circuits is a leading player in the industry. Their success has put their microcontrollers on the International Space Station, and the SiC Ultra Violet Sensor operation collected its first data on May 7th, 2019.
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Company: Ozark Integrated Circuits
Fast Fact: OZIC has acquired more than 10 Small Business Innovation Research grants totaling more than $13 million in federal grants from the U.S. Air Force, Department of Energy and NASA.