STTR Phase I: Low Temperature Cofired Multilayer Ceramic Power Transformers Incorporating Base Metallization Materials

Period of Performance: 01/01/2015 - 12/31/2015

$225K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Solid State Ceramics, Inc.
200 Innovation Boulevard, Suite 234-4
State College, PA 16803
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Pennsylvania State University
110 Technology Center Building
University Park, PA 16802
Institution POC

Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to a wide range of electronics as to include power supplies, inverters point-of-load (POL) power devices, voltage isolators and voltage sensors. The high thermal operation that is EMI/RFI immune and very rad hard enables completely new electronics design solutions for medical, space, defense, and energy exploration. This new technology proposed will be ideal for distributed POL solutions for commercial solar energy, high performance adaptors and converters for mobile/portable electronics, robotic integrated subcompact power supplies. The success will also open up new capabilities for agencies such as NASA, and commercial space companies to integrate a new subcompact solution for converting mains bus power to all of the subsystems that is far more radiation and high temperature tolerant than anything ever previously available. This is of particular interest to the SmallSat/CubeSat (miniaturized satellite) community. There will also be spin-off benefits to manufacturing of higher performance actuators and transducer devices that will see significant decreased costs through use of significantly less expensive copper materials. This Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Phase I project will address the challenge of enabling high power/high performance ceramic transformers that replaces conventional magnetics. Many electronics applications can benefit from replacing magnetic transformer with ceramics. Advantages include large increase in safe operating temperatures, drastically reducing the electromagnetic/radio frequency interference (EMI/RFI) issues, and reducing the size/weight. At present, no such transformers exist. Any solution will require multilayer construction; however, for transformers this introduces several difficult and unsolved challenges in electronics process engineering that are not issues for multilayer ceramic capacitors, piezoelectric actuators and piezoelectric sensors manufacture. These new challenges include that the multilayer construction must now enable individual poling of each layer; because transformer devices must operate at resonance they now generate much greater levels of thermal energy requiring drastically improved thermal management (electrode electrical/thermal conduction); also requires replacing soft ceramic with low loss hard ceramic. Copper introduces very superior properties in electrical/thermal conduction but requires significantly lower process temperatures that will be challenging to achieve for sintered hard ceramic but offers enormous pay-off with success. The research will investigate the promising approach of a new low temperature process that uses new doping chemistries and advantageous copper electroding.