High-Temperature Electronics and Packaging

The goal of NREL's high-temperature electronics research is to design and evaluate efficient and reliable geothermal sensing and power electronic components and packaging through world-class experimental and modeling capabilities.

Materials researchers in a laboratory.
NREL leverages its cutting-edge capabilities in design and reliability of sensing and power electronics to improve high-temperature drilling.

Geothermal drilling is plagued by nonproductive time related to lost circulation, drill bit trips, and inefficiencies due to low rates of penetration and damaging drilling dynamics. Drilling time can be reduced by 50% by optimizing geothermal drilling through new sensing and electronics technologies. Downhole, high-temperature, and extended-range sensing downhole sensors can measure position, vibration, weight on bit, rotational speeds, and rock mechanics to facilitate drilling with higher efficiency, more reliability, and more range. Current downhole sensor technology is not reliable over 150°C, while anticipated drilling environments for geothermal surpass 400°C. The key to realizing lower drilling costs is the development of robust sensor packages that are survivable and provide data to improve efficiency.

NREL’s research covers all aspects of sensor and power/signal electronics, including materials, contact metallurgies, and packaging. These components integrate to provide a downhole electronic platform capable of withstanding temperature, mechanical, and chemical stressors.


  • Sensor development – Synthesis capabilities of gallium oxide high-temperature sensors and their silicon carbide interface electronics allow for more reliable downhole sensing at temperatures as high as 300°C–400°C.
  • Device packaging – Multiphysics integration and packaging capabilities include the materials, thermal, electro-thermal, mechanical, and reliability aspects of packaging.
  • High-temperature reliability characterization – Experimental capabilities allow for accelerated temperature aging or cycling conditions in combination with vibration and/or power cycling.
  • Material property characterization – Experimental capabilities allow for characterization of new materials by quantifying their thermal, electrical, and mechanical material properties.


Gallium Oxide Techno-Economic Analysis for the Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Market, SPIE Photonics West 2020 Conference (2020)

Electrothermal Modeling and Analysis of Gallium Oxide Power Switching Devices, ASME 2019 International Technical Conference and Exhibition on Packaging and Integration of Electronic and Photonic Microsystems (2019)

Modeling and Analysis of Future Gallium Oxide Power Semiconductor Devices, ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology (2019)

Physics-Based Modeling of Vertical FinFET Gallium Oxide Transistor for Next-Generation Power Electronics Applications, Presented at the 77th Device Research Conference (2019)

Thermomechanical Modeling of High-Temperature Bonded Interface Materials, Chapter in Die-Attach Materials for High-Temperature Applications in Microelectronics Packaging (2019)

View all NREL publications about geothermal research.