It’s getting HOTS in here: Resilient sensing in extreme environments

Source illustration :

On 16 May, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) released a Broad Agency Announcement announcing the starting of the High Operational Temperature Sensors (HOTS) program designed to develop microelectronic sensor technologies capability of high-bandwidth, high-dynamic -range sensing at extreme temperatures.

While diagnostic sensors are increasingly incorporated into modern military equipment, for example in turbine engines or high-speed flight, in the digital age to monitor health, adjust performance parameters, and warn of impending challenges. The information these systems collect is important not just for the functioning of the platform or system in carrying out its immediate task, but also in helping make logistics and maintenance more efficient.

An image from the HOTS program description page. Source: DARPA

However, as Dr. Benjamin Griffin, program manager for HOTS noted “Many of the defense and industrial systems that rely on sensors experience harsh environments beyond the capability of today’s high-performance physical sensors.” The result is that sensors used in these environments are “limited by the uncertainty of their thermal environment.” As a result, sensors that can withstand thermally harsh conditions are limited to low sensitivity transducers located in hot zones coupled via noise electrical connections to remote, temperature-constrained silicon signal-conditioning microelectronics in cold zones, reducing the frequency bandwidth and range.

DARPA is considering combinations of emerging materials, fabrication techniques, and integration technologies as part of their efforts to develop new types of sensors that can withstand extreme heat.

The program is scheduled to hold a Proposers Day on 31 May 2023

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