Microsemi Corp., a manufacturer of high performance analog/mixed signal integrated circuits and high reliability semiconductors, has announced that the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has awarded $1.6 M to allow Microsemi’s Power Products Group (formerly Bend, Oregon-based Advanced Power Technology) to develop technology related to the use of silicon carbide RF power semiconductor components in military avionics applications.

The development of the new silicon carbide technology supports future designs of lighter and more efficient jet fighter avionics, communications and radar systems, and will enable substantial growth of Microsemi’s operations in Bend. The AFRL program complements the initial license agreement with Northrop Grumman Corp., released in February 2006, wherein Microsemi will provide leading-edge silicon carbide products to this leading defense contractor.

Silicon carbide brings several advantages in avionics applications, including increased reliability, extended battlespace coverage, point-of-use power conversion, and reduced size and cooling requirements. Silicon carbide plays a key role as battlefields become more networked and the demands for expanded bandwidth and high duty (power) operation increase significantly.

The AFRL contract with Microsemi will establish the company as an independent supplier who will bring forward the products and make them available in the commercial marketplace.

According to James J. Peterson, Microsemi president and CEO, “Microsemi is committed to be a technology innovator in the development of next generation silicon carbide products for defense and commercial applications. This commitment from AFRL is another example of the end customer support that we are receiving in the quest of being a silicon carbide leader.”