Microsemi Corp., a manufacturer of high performance analog/mixed-signal integrated circuits and high reliability semiconductors, has announced that Congress has appropriated $1.8 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 semiconductor components in military avionics applications. It is expected that the program will be administered by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

This commitment by the Air Force and Congress to further development of the new silicon carbide technology supports future designs of lighter and more efficient jet fighter communications systems, and will enable substantial growth of Microsemi’s operations in Bend. The appropriation comes on the heels of a contract with Northrop Grumman earlier in the year wherein Microsemi will provide 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.

News of the Congressional funding came in an announcement in Washington by Oregon US Senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith. According to Senator Wyden, “This commitment reaffirms the status of Central Oregon as a haven for high technology research, development and production, particularly as it relates to aerospace applications. APT, now Microsemi, has been a Central Oregon leader, both in terms of its commitment to its employees, and its commitment to the nation, developing new technology of vital importance to maintaining a strong defense.”

Senator Smith visited Microsemi’s Bend, Oregon facility in April during ceremonies commemorating the launch of its advanced silicon carbide fabrication facility. He lauded the company’s efforts in Bend for playing “…a key role in supporting our efforts to maintain peace around the world through the supply of components for communications, monitoring and surveillance systems.”

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 is another example of the end customer support that we are receiving in the quest of being a silicon carbide leader.”