back to article NASA bakes Venus-proof electronics

NASA boffins have found a way to make electronics that can survive on the surface of Venus, at least for a few weeks Venus is a hell-planet. It's about 460°C (860°F) on the surface. Atmospheric pressure is about 9.3 Megapascals, 93 times Earth's air pressure. Some clouds are rich in sulphur dioxide, which can produce rain of …

  1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Bring back thermionic valves I say!

    But seriously, having such high-temperature electronics has some applications on Earth as well, maybe not as harsh, but for deep drills and around reactors, etc.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Thermionic valves require a vacuum

      Build a difference engine out of glass!

  2. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    At last, technology to make phones toddler proof...

    ... as if...

    1. Gideon 1

      Re: At last, technology to make phones toddler proof...

      Jack-Jack Attack on the Incredibles DVD

  3. roytrubshaw

    Kitchen competition?

    "Which sounds to El Reg like the chips were still going strong when the authors were booted out of their lab."

    Or as my colleague has just said: "Their mum wanted the oven back!"

    1. Tachikoma

      Re: Kitchen competition?

      Almost. I read in a different article that they basically reached the limit of what the apparatus could handle and had to reset the "oven", so it's possible the new chips could last significantly longer in the real Venusian world.

  4. LDS Silver badge

    What NASA should do....

    1) Send a probe to Venus

    2) Return images it's full of blonde scantily clad women

    3) Prepare a spaceship to reach Venus - Trump will want to go first

    4) Launch the spaceship

    5) Problem solved.

    1. Unicornpiss Silver badge

      If there are women on Venus...

      ..they would certainly be hot!

      1. Apprentice of Tokenism

        Re: If there are women on Venus...

        Hear, hear.

        Have a cold one!

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: What NASA should do....

      If we want to go to Mars we should also tell him there are leather goddesses on Phobos

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: What NASA should do....

        Does someone remember the "A Mind Forever Voyaging" plot? IIRC is disturbing actual....

      2. DubyaG

        Re: What NASA should do....

        I still have that game and all of its "accessories". Can't play it though. Finding a 5.25" floppy drive is too much work for a text game. Say "Kwee-Pa!",

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: What NASA should do....

      Better get a bigger spaceship. I'm sure there's quite a few politicians on both sides of the pond that would fight for a seat on it.

  5. frank ly Silver badge

    Geek note

    4H-SiC is the '4H' crystalline form of SiC, in case anyone is wondering, as you all are, I'm sure. It has more than 250 polymorphs!

    (Wikipedia: it's great but consider the possibility of editorial bias and check out the quality of the references and always compare with another source of information.)

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Geek note

      It has more than 250 polymorphs!

      ObRedDwarf: "That's a lot of curries!"

  6. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

    Jeremy Clarkson, "Silicon Carbi ...YAWN..."

    In relation to some bits and pieces of a Porsche.

  7. Potemkine Silver badge

    Working at 500°C

    Say goodbye to cooling devices for many applications here on Earth

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Working at 500°C

      Say goodbye to your thighs in future generations of lap-tops.

    2. annodomini2

      Re: Working at 500°C

      Say hello to micro steam turbines.

  8. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    "Which will mean yet more Internet of Things hype about the vast amount of data collected by commercial aircraft."

    Should be an great idea if you want to regulate fuel flow precisely, and also to give early warning of out-of-normal temperature and behaviours.

    But it'll be nice to be able to seriously overclock your CPU without worrying about the need for coolant. Until you hit 500 degrees Celsius...

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Liquid sodium in an all-in-one CPU cooling loop- ooh yes!

  9. graeme leggett

    Other materials

    I suspect it was Asimov (since he wrote a lot of robot stories) but I think I recall a SF story about robots on inhospitable planet with beryllium-iridium allow shells. Was it just me?

    1. DNTP

      Re: Other materials

      "Victory Unintentional", 1942.

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: Other materials

        Ta. That looks like it.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Other materials

        "Victory Unintentional", 1942.

        Not forgetting the other one involving heat, Runaround, 1942, although that was more of a programming thing rather than electronics.

  10. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    Kind of a long journey..

    ..from a simple oscillator to a working microprocessor, radio transceiver, and other circuits needed. Plus power supply, etc. And what do you solder it all together with as most solder melts at the temps present on Venus? I imagine silicon carbide chips will be useful for speciality applications, but we're a long way from a working probe.

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Kind of a long journey..

      Also thermal expansion effects of going from the cold during interplanetary transit to the surface temperatures of Venus will impose mechanical strain on the circuitry and connections to it

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Kind of a long journey..

      Oh, that's easy - you just use lead-free solder; the wretched thing melts at around 1000 C based on my empirical observations.

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Kind of a long journey..

        Au82In18 starts to melt at 451o C.

        Sadly my soldering iron only goes up to 450o C!

      2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: Kind of a long journey..

        That could work. The melting point of lead-free solder shoots up as it absorbs nearby metals, causing it to sometimes harden like crazy glue. A paste of metals could do that on purpose for high temperature electronics. For us here on Earth, it means prying your soldering iron off anything that has a porous copper surface.

    3. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

      Re: Kind of a long journey..

      SiC transistors and diodes are already widely available. People tend to forget that CPUs and microprocessors are not always necessary. The Soviets managed to send probes to Venus using quite primitive electronics half a century ago.

  11. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Great news

    It's time to go back and explore the surface of Venus, if only to get a clue as to what the hell is going on (or rather not going on) with that planet's internal heat engine.

    Just getting a good look at some rocks would help - do they have any water or has it all been cooked out of the Crust into the atmosphere and then into space. If we can't find water, then perhaps that why there's no plate tectonics since partial melting of the Mantle is much harder. If there is - ummmm....

    During the 1990s there were persistent reports that the Russians had a number of partially completed Venera probes waiting for the money to complete them. Since then, not a lot about surface exploration, NASA has proposed Venus In-Situ Explorer and Russia has the Venera-D mission - but neither has been approved as yet.

  12. Zmodem

    want to put the circuit in a toughened graphite box, and spray it with british roofing silicon, roofing silicon makes a easy job of holding down those tiles in the monsoon storms with 140mph + winds, board up a broken window with it, and you will pull the whole window out if you try and get the board off with a crowbar

    its the ultimate in no more nails, see how long it lasts in a bath of acid, i know acid does'nt do too much to the silicon

    1. Jan 0

      Roofing silicon?

      Do you mean those magic roof panels that generate electricity?

      If not, what the hell is roofing silicon? Can the Mekon cross it on his flying chair?

      1. Zmodem

        Re: Roofing silicon?

        like the standard silicone you get down a DIY store,-MS-Polymer,-Adhesive-_and_-Sealant-Box-12?gclid=CKfxpNCMhtICFQ5mGwodPpMA7w

        industrial grade is a lot better, and you use it to seal breaze blocks too, to make them water proof and less likely to crumble

        to cut the story short, some adhesives can handle temperatures of upto 600c

        1. Zmodem

          Re: Roofing silicon?

          it can't be hard for NASA to get a few universities to make a space formula, if standard building spray prolongs the life of circuits

    2. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

      Silicon != silicone

      One is a hard, crystalline metalloid element and the other is a polymer made up of chains containing atoms of said element alternating with oxygen atoms. Confusing them could have interesting results for chip manufacturers and breast implant patients.

      "i know acid does'nt do too much to the silicon"

      Silicone rubber is fairly resistant to acid at normal temperatures, but it's unlikely to survive heating to 500C.

  13. Bandikoto

    I wonder if it's rad-hard as well?

    They sure could use some rad-hardened ROVs ("robots") at Fukushima.

    An earlier rad-hard standard was SoS (Silicon on Sapphire) in a ceramic package, which those of us who are earth-bound saw in RCA's 1802 (COSMAC) microprocessor - it has flown on satellites and deep-space probes, notably on Galileo.

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