Oct 5, 2021 - News
University of Arkansas to open new research facility
An Arkansas Razorbacks sign on campus of the University of Arkansas. Photo by Lance King/Replay Photos via Getty Images

University of Arkansas engineering researchers will operate a new silicon carbide research and fabrication facility, the university announced Monday.

  • Huh? We'll explain: Silicon carbide is a semiconductor of power that works well in higher temperatures.

Why it matters: The facility will produce integrated circuits, sensors and devices that can be used for military and industrial purposes as well as for construction equipment and electronics for cars.

  • And it's the first in the U.S. to be open — as in researchers and businesses not affiliated with U of A can use it to build and test prototypes, says Alan Mantooth, the professor leading the research team.
  • "This is very important when you're trying to bridge the gap between research and commercial products. That’s the bridge we’re building," he tells Axios.

Context: Bloomberg reported last week that silicon carbide might be the answer to making electronic vehicles that charge faster and keep a charge longer, which consumers demand.

  • Mantooth explains that silicon carbide can help make electronics more efficient. Its ability to operate in high temperatures eliminates the need for water cooling.

Details: A $17.87 million grant from the National Science Foundation will pay for infrastructure, equipment, technology installation, three full-time staff members and a postdoctoral researcher for four years, according to the university news release.

  • The university also received $5.4 million from the U.S. Army, including $4.4 million for equipment and $1 million for research, Mantooth adds.

What's next: The facility will open in an existing temporary space on campus as soon as the equipment arrives, but the research team is hoping for a new 15,000–16,000-square-foot building, Mantooth says.

  • He expects that will be up for Board of Trustees discussion this fall.
avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios NW Arkansas.

More NW Arkansas stories

No stories could be found

NW Arkansaspostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios NW Arkansas.