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Research Overview

The three thrusts within the lab include extreme-environment materials, devices, and system integration. Watch Prof. Senesky's recent seminar (GaN for the Future!) and our profile on Seeker (Graphene Aerogels in Space) to lean more about the specifics of our research.

Materials

Materials growth and characterization is a key area in the Xlab. To develop, electronics, sensors, and insturments for harsh environment material choice is critical. In electronics, the semicondutor, ohmic metalization, Schottky metalization, passivation, and packaging materials all effect the device and the system survival. Many of the materials undergo harsh environment expusre testing in radiaton chambers, up to 600ºC in air, and in Venus surface conditions. Several on going project in the materials area include:

  • GaN MOCVD growth
  • GaN high temperature metalization
  • ZnO crystalization after radiation
  • Phonon drag in AlGaN/GaN 2DEG
  • Semicondutor Venus exposure testing

Microgravity Materials Synthesis

In-space manufacturing (ISM) provides the opportunity to develop materials with superior properties than those produced on Earth. Additionally, ISM allows for the possibility to manufacture devices such as sensors that can be used directly on spacecrafts. Direct implementation of (ISM) devices will lead to faster and more cost-effective spacecraft maintenance. The International Space Station National Laboratory (ISS NL) provides a unique, microgravity platform for these opportunities. The XLab seeks to leverage this extreme environment platform to study materials synthesis and device fabrication with the absence of gravitational effects through the following projects: 

 

Microgravity Synthesis of Graphene Aerogel (GA)

This project is being conducted in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Techshot, and the ISS NL.

 

  • Synthesis of GA on board the ISS NL
  • Examining the multi-physical properties of space grown GA:
    • Microstructure
    • Mechanical
    • Thermal
    • Electrical

 

Microgravity Synthesis & Fabrication of WBG Semiconductor Devices

This project is being conducted in collaboration with Made in Space (MIS), ISS NL, and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI).

 

  • Developing concept of operations and system requirements
  • Determining preliminary design through modeling, simulations, and design review
  • Manufacturing and testing candidate sensor systems
  • Testing sensors manufactured through high-power impulse plasma source (HiPIPS) technology onboard ISS NL

Devices

The XLab also focuses on the developement of micro- and nano-sytems for operation within extreme harsh environments. Several devices currently being developed in the lab include:

  • AlGaN/GaN magnetic field sensors
  • MSM Graphene-GaN ultraviolet photodectors
  • 2DEG interdigitated photodetectors for flame temperature sensing
  • Ceramic Piezoelectric MEMS Resonators
  • III-Nitride pressure sensors
  • GaN integrated circuits

Systems

The XLab goes beyond the material and device level. Integration of our sensors and electronics into real world sensors matures this technology for future use in harsh enviornments.

  • Cubesat instrumentation of XLab sensors
  • GaN monolithic integration of sensors and electronics
  • Deployable mylar solar sails via shape memory alloy