DI-112 – Proposal to the National Science Foundation for an Engineering Research Center for Extreme Environment Electronics (CE3)

The Engineering Research  Center for Extreme Environment Electronics (CE3)

A Proposal

R, Wayne Johnson



The vision of CE3 is to “develop robust sensing, computing and actuation systems to revolutionize energy exploration and production, transportation and scientific discovery.” Electronics have dramatically changed the way we live our lives, conduct business, communicate, and educate. Visions of the future foretell of ubiquitous computing and sensing. However, the environments in which electronics can reliably operate are at present limited. For example, in consumer applications, typical operating temperatures range from -40oC to +85oC and the ‘wider’ military standard is still just -55oC to +125oC. Using electronics in high radiation, corrosive chemical or high vibration environments also places severe constraints on system complexity and reduces overall reliability. CE3 will extend the boundaries of electronics, enabling electronics to be used reliably over long periods of time in extreme environments. Target system applications include oil and gas exploration and production, transportation (automotive, air craft, etc.) and scientific discovery (space exploration, volcano and earthquake research, etc.)

The member universities are: Auburn University – Lead; Arizona State University, Purdue University, University of Maryland and Vanderbilt University – Core Partners; and Georgia Institute of Technology, Prairie View A&M, University of Arkansas and University of Tennessee – Affiliate Partners. These universities are leaders in extreme environment electronics research and development, addressing the entire research spectrum from systems engineering to devices, packaging and design down to basic physics and materials science.

Funding: If selected as an Engineering Research Center by the National Science Foundation, NSF will provide $3M in year 1, $3.25M in year 2, $3.5M in year 3 and $4M in years 4 and 5. The Center can be renewed at comparable funding levels for 5 additional years. Industrial participation is fundamental to the Center. CE3 will have industrial and governmental fee-based memberships. These members will guide the research activities of the Center and share in the technologies developed. The NSF funding provides significant leverage for the industrial monies. Collaboration between different industry segments with similar requirements provides further leveraging. The membership fee structure and common membership agreement terms will be developed in collaboration with the prospective Center members.

The research structure of CE3 is shown in the following Strategic Framework. Working with industry, system requirements are determined and fed down through the Enabling Technologies and Fundamental Knowledge Levels resulting in solutions and technology deliverables that can be demonstrated in the three Test Beds and transfer to the Industrial Affiliates (members).