High Density Electronics Center Receives a Phase II Air Force STTR Sub-Award


The High Density Electronics Center (HiDEC) located at the College of Engineering’s Engineering Research Center and the Arkansas Research and Technology Park (https://artp.uark.edu/), has received a sub-award Phase II Air Force STTR from Ozark IC Inc on February 6, 2018, to investigate low temperature co‐fired ceramic (LTCC) as a solution for reliable high‐temperature electronic controls.  Dr. Simon Ang, Director of HiDEC and Professor of electrical Engineering, is the principal investigator.

HiDEC is a one-of-a-kind facility that provides unique and essential packaging and platform services. Northwest Arkansas has emerged as a Center of Excellence for the design of power electronics and extreme environment electronics and HiDEC, together with the UA, is a vital component of this Center of Excellence. Capabilities provided by HiDEC include research and prototyping in advanced electronic packaging, ceramic system integration, microelectronic integrations, and power electronic module packaging.  HiDEC (https://high-density-electronics.uark.edu/) offers assistance to industry, as well as UA faculty and students, by providing 24/7 fee-based access to its facilities and process training for their employees.  Full-time staff members are available to assist students, faculty, and industrial clients, enabling them to fully leverage our core capabilities.

Dr. Matt Francis, CEO of Ozark IC states, “HiDEC is a perfect partner for our Phase II Air Force project. In fact, HiDEC’s role in our success is irreplaceable. Its technology and capabilities provide an essential counterpart for our technologies. There is no point developing optical and/or high-temperature electronic circuits if you don’t have a reliable platform and package to put it in. HiDEC’s people and facilities are world-class. HiDEC provides a service and capability that is essential to the success of semiconductor businesses in NW Arkansas.”

Dr. Alan Mantooth, Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Arkansas, says "HiDEC provides unique core capabilities for our teaching and research mission. The expertise our students obtain at HiDEC is highly prized by hiring organizations world-wide".

Several of the companies that have started up around UA and HiDEC owe much of their success to HiDEC. Cree/Wolfspeed’s Fayetteville campus, Ozark Integrated Circuits, Inc., and Picasolar are just 3 of the more than 10 industrial users of the UA HiDEC core facility. 

Dr. Alex Lostetter, former CEO of Arkansas Power Electronics (APEI) and current Vice President of Cree’s Wolfspeed, Fayetteville, states, “When APEI was a start-up business in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, we depended on HiDEC to perform a significant portion of the key research, which was essential to us even getting off the ground.  The HiDEC facilities and equipment are absolutely world-class.  It is because of HiDEC that we were actually able to make that first important step down the path to success.  And we’re forever grateful for that partnership with the UA and HiDEC, which we continue to foster to this day.”

Dr. Douglas Hutchings, CEO of Picasolar, reiterates the role of HiDEC to ARTP member companies, "HiDEC has been critical to Picasolar's development and we would have never gotten off the ground without it. The staff are a tremendous resource for getting a new process up-to-speed quickly. Ultimately HiDEC enables startups to move faster and save money thus increasing the odds of success.”

Some of the HiDEC Laboratories are:

  • HiDEC’s Power Module facility conducts research and user services in the high temperature and high voltage power electronic modules.  From this facility, a novel, high temperature power electronic module for electric vehicle was made possible. This work was a partnership between APEI, ROHM, Sandia National Laboratories, and the University of Arkansas. The active power component consists of a silicon-carbide power inverter module capable of operating at 250°C. Because it needs less cooling, this device saves energy. The realized concept received an R&D 100 award in 2009 for being the world’s first power module of its kind that can withstand these high temperatures. 
  • HiDEC’s Ceramic Laboratory is capable of processing and integrating ceramic substrates for high power and extreme high frequency operation.  This laboratory is unique for a university campus. This laboratory does research and prototyping work for many industrial clients including ultra-high frequency horn antenna, high-Q factor surface mount inductor, and packaging substrates for high temperature operations.
  • HiDEC’s Silicon Processing and Assembly Laboratories allow ARTP startups to conduct R&D to grow their business.  These facilities made possible the deliverable of a fiber-optic package for space.  This work was a partnership between HiDEC and Space Photonics. The end result was a completed module placed on the ELC hardware packet that the 2009 flight of the Atlantis shuttle delivered to the International Space Station.

Other capabilities include 3-D printing, reliability, flexible/organic electronic, rotogravure/roll-to-roll, and nano synthesis laboratories.  Example research includes electronic embedded and functional fabrics, physical and chemical sensors, and flexible/organic electronic components.  HiDEC regularly hosts employees from industry to work with HiDEC faculty and staff. 

By providing UA students with unique training, HiDEC helps to reverse the “brain drain” from NW Arkansas – for example, three of UA’s most recent doctoral graduates in electrical engineering who did their dissertation research at HiDEC are employed by ARTP member companies. 

Philip Stafford, President of the Arkansas Research and Technology Park (ARTP), commenting on HiDEC’s impact says, “Corporate partners of ARTP benefit from access to leading-edge facilities and research infrastructure, which translates to a competitive advantage. In that regard, HiDEC continues to serve as an important training facility for university students that are critical to meeting the workforce requirements of our affiliate companies. Access to HiDEC and other university-related research resources has contributed to the ARTP having a statewide economic output impact of over $281 million in the past five years.”