What is NSF-CAVE3?

The National Science Foundation Center for Advanced Vehicle and Extreme Environment Electronics (NSF-CAVE3) at Auburn University is a national center of excellence in harsh environment electronics. The center is an Industry and University Cooperative Research program (I/URC). In 1999, a small seed grant from the National Science Foundation was utilized to help establish the research center. Since its inception, CAVE3 has formed a number of long-term partnerships with industry, government, and academic agencies. The vast majority of funding for the center currently derives from industrial partners. Since research topics are driven by an Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) comprised of member organizations, research results are directly applicable to their needs.

As electronic components become more prevalent in automotive applications, their reliability becomes an issue that requires costly recalls. Furthermore, when components are integrated into underhood applications, their temperatures range between -30° C and 175° C. However, they still are expected to last for 10yrs/250,000 km (-22F to 350F and 150,000 miles). CAVE3 was founded to assist automotive suppliers and any entity with harsh environment electronics applications that needs to meet their reliability requirements. From the very beginning of the center's existence, it was acknowledged that thermal stresses are not the only hazard to electronics. Therefore, in 2009, its title was changed to NSF-CAVE3 Center for Advanced Vehicle and Extreme Environment Electronics. The updated name better communicates the center's areas of research and addresses the reliability challenges from harsh environments.

Research areas cover challenges in:

Bi-annual research reviews are hosted to communicate findings to member organizations. These also are implemented into a tool set, entitled "E-tools", which allows member organizations to access extensive historical reliability and finite element-based simulation tools designed by CAVE3 researchers. The center offers a broad range of independent laboratory testing services and consulting to quantify the reliability of production prototypes and resolve manufacturing issues. All testing is in accordance with EDEC, ASTM, IPC, Military, UL, commercial, and customer specifications.