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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Navy funds silicone research at State

    The Emerging Materials Research Laboratory, in the department of computer and electrical engineering, received a grant of about $730,000 to research silicone carbide for use with the military.
    The Office of Naval Research awarded the grant to the lab, which has been researching silicon carbide for more than 10 years.
    Yaroslav Koshka, a principle investigator, said that the research from the grant will be used to investigate production temperature and cost. Koshka, chemisty professor Charles Pittman and their team of students and technicians will also look at defects and impurities.
    “Impurities and defects can be good or bad. We will try to get rid of the bad ones and keep the good ones,” Koshka said.
    Pittman said that by using different gasses in the growth, the temperatures can be reduced to allow for the impurities to be greatly reduced.
    “You can hardly imagine the changes in the electrical process that the presence of impurities can make,” Pittman said.
    As it is produced now, manufacturers heat the material to temperatures of 1600 to 1800 degrees. Part of the lab’s research will be to produce the material at a lower temperature to reduce stress on the material and reduce impurities.
    Silicon carbide is too expensive to be widely used at this time, Koshka said.
    “It needs a lot of improvement before it will be cheap enough,” Koshka said.
    The goal of the grant from the Navy is to allow researchers at MSU to develop a process for the fabrication of radio-frequency transistors and other applications for the Navy and Marine Corps.
    Silicon carbide research began at Mississippi State by professor Michael Mazzola, when he began growing layers of silicon carbide over 10 years ago.
    Through research by university professors, SemiSouth was founded. The Starkville based company works to commercialize the silicon material for use by device manufacturers.
    Mazzola, Jeff Casady and Geoff Carter started SemiSouth in 2000. It is located in the multi-tenant building in the MSU Research Park across Miss. Highway 82 from the university.
    “The company was small in the beginning, and now we have 15 people working with SemiSouth,” Will Draper, Technical Sales Engineer for SemiSouth, said.
    “We have people from all over the country working with us, and we will continue to grow,” Draper said.
    Although, SemiSouth is not directly working with the lab on the research, the project is a direct interest to the company.
    “We are very well aware of Dr. Koshka’s work, and we will be very excited to see it,” Draper said.

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    Navy funds silicone research at State