Radiation Hardened IC Design

ICs designed for Space, Medical, Homeland Security, Scientific Experiment, and Defense applications operate in hazardous high-radiation environments. Depending upon the intended context, this could mean solar and cosmic radiation particles, gamma rays, radiation from medical imaging (x-rays), radiation in nuclear medicine, neutrons in high energy physics experiments and nuclear reactors, etc.

Alphacore Inc.’s meticulous radiation hard by design (RHBD) approach and careful component selection ensures the radiation hardness you’ll require for your project timeline.

Radiation Effects

Semi-conductors circuit structures are particularly prone to damage from radiation due to their small materials operating with limited numbers of charge carriers. Commercially available sub-micron designs are generally not suitable for long term operation in radiation environments without significant weight-adding shielding. The design team at Alphacore has extensive expertise in designing circuitry that is impervious to the effects of these phenomena. In general, the effects of radiation on semi-conductors are often observed in the following three instances

  • Total Ionizing Dose (TID) radiation damage that originates from charge build-up and trapping in semiconductor isolation oxides. TID increases leakage currents and causes offsets in circuits.
  • Single event effects (SEE) that originate from charge pulses generated by energetic particles, such as protons or heavy ions, entering the semiconductor material. The SEEs can be categorized as single event transient, upset, latchup and functional interrupt (SET, SEU, SEL and SEFI) that can be reversed with a power reset and single event burnout and gate rupture (SEB, SEGR) that cause permanent, irreversible damage.
  • Displacement Damage from the impacts of energetic particles, such as protons or neutrons. Displacement damage occurs when a high-energy radiation particle collides with an atom in the semiconductor bulk and displaces it into an interstitial state. Displacement Damage is a major problem in imaging devices used in space, particularly in CCD devices. It causes increased dark currents in the pixels.

There are innovative design techniques and manufacturing technologies available for all the above radiation affects. Alphacore has first-hand experience delivering highly reliable components for long term deployments protected from radiation effects such as these.