Energy Dept. Awards Pair of Grants to Ozark IC for Flow Sensing and UV Array Systems

August 1st, 2017 by Rebecca Todd

Fayetteville-based Ozark Integrated Circuits, a long-time client of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, has won $310,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop silicon carbide technology for two commercial applications: flow sensing and ultraviolet detectors/arrays.

The pair of Small Business Innovation Research Phase I grants have nine-month project performance periods.

Ozark IC has won over $1 million in SBIR/STTR awards since June, including a $750,000 contract from the Department of Defense Small Business Technology Transfer program.

Ozark IC team

ASBTDC Assistance
“As usual with all our SBIR/STTR proposals, ASBTDC staff and Rebecca Norman, in particular, provide essential marketing support and data — quickly and completely. We greatly appreciate all the support they provide and know that without them, our job would be a lot harder,” said Dr. Matt Francis, CEO of Ozark IC.

DOE SBIR Project Goals

Flow and Power Generation

This project addresses the measurement of flow and power generation in the very-high-temperature environment of geothermal wells. Ozark IC will be using specially-designed high-temperature motors from its subcontractor, Honeybee Robotics.

The thrust of the Phase I project is to validate Ozark IC’s electronics and Honeybee Robotics’ motors in a generator configuration for flow sensing and power generation in geothermal wells. In Phase I, a complete flow sensing system will be demonstrated through hardware-validation simulation models in preparation for module fabrication and in-field tests.

Ozark IC has developed many circuits, design procedures, and considerable expertise in the design of high-temperature electronics. “We have designed the most complex and largest integrated circuit to be built in silicon-carbide, the integrated circuit fabrication medium for high-temperature electronics,” said Francis.

UV Arrays and Detectors

The other project uses Ozark IC’s patented UV sensor. Ozark IC has fabricated a large set of UV sensing test devices and test circuits using the UV sensor and, in this award, will re-examine this material for use as a Geiger-mode large area UV array.

“If we can reconfigure our UV sensor to be a photon counting device, then DoE’s UV detectors could be miniaturized and high power components would be eliminated, a leap similar to the change from days of cathode-ray tube TV sets to the flat-screen TVs in use today,” said Jim Holmes, Ozark IC CTO and principal investigator on the UV array project.

An optimized photon-counting device will be designed and applied to a large area array of detectors.

Defective devices will be electronically detected and “removed” from the array. The large area design will be ready for fabrication in Phase II. “Ozark IC has created the largest set of circuits and IP associated with UV detection in silicon-carbide. This, together with its expertise in silicon-carbide system design make Ozark IC ideally suited for this task,” shared Francis.

What’s Next?

“Ozark IC’s focus is now on creating high-temperature and UV products that will take advantage of its unique expertise and patented intellectual property,” said Francis.

2017 DOE SBIR Phase I Award Listing

Startup Junkie podcast interview: Engineering the Future with Ozark IC