Ozark Integrated Circuits Success Story

Situation

Ozark 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.

The Problem/Challenge

In 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.

Solution

Ozark 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.

Results

Since acquiring the NASA award for electronics for future Venus missions, Ozark Integrated Circuits won a second award from NASA to create a fabrication process model for the design of complicated circuits that would operate for thousands of hours in very high temperatures. 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). Additionally, Ozark Integrated Circuits was awarded a $750,000 award from the U.S. Air Force to work with the University of Arkansas High Density Electronics Center to develop electronics packaging and assembly systems for controls in jet engines that can operate at temperatures up to 300 degrees Celsius.

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Ozark Integrated Circuits

Company: Ozark Integrated Circuits

Fast Fact: OIC has acquired more than 10 Small Business Innovation Research grants totaling more than $2 million in federal grants from the U.S. Air Force, Department of Energy and NASA.