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Proton irradiation to enhance or degrade semiconductor performance

Having worked with Brookhaven National Laboratories in Long Island, NY when I was an applications engineer for Burr-Brown and Texas Instruments, I learned a bit about semiconductor materials for use as particle tracking detectors in very high radiation environments. Radiation shielding and use of Rad Hard ICs are essential in this kind of environment.

What I was not aware of was the technique of doping semiconductors using radiation defects that are produced by irradiation with protons and alpha particles.

With today’s technology, semiconductors can be modified, using beams of protons and alpha particles. Doping semiconductors with radiation defects, produced by irradiation with light ions, enables the control of semiconducting material properties that can enhance the development of new devices designed for optoelectronics, microelectronics, and nanoelectronics.

Such modified devices are due to a different method of doping from those obtained by conventional doping methods, such as diffusion, epitaxy, and ion implantation. Positive results have been experienced by such companies as Proton-Electrotex in Russia over the years and are maturing now.

I will shortly be bringing a very interesting and informative technical article to EDN in the next few weeks regarding this technique. Please watch for it because this method has some very interesting and unique applications in modern semiconducting micro- and -nano-electronics structures.

The image of Proton generation at a thin foil target by intense, ultra-short LASER pulse irradiation, formerly used in cancer treatment, now used in a compact proton beam for solar cell irradiation tests. (Image courtesy of Reference 1)

The image of Proton generation at a thin foil target by intense, ultra-short LASER pulse irradiation, formerly used in cancer treatment, now used in a compact proton beam for solar cell irradiation tests. (Image courtesy of Reference 1)

I will also briefly discuss the negative effect of Proton Irradiation on Solar Cells in Space and on CCD imaging elements, plus how Proton Irradiation in high power IGBTs and Free-Wheeling Diodes (FWDs) turn-off time improves in a Planet Analog technical blog that is coming up shortly as well.

References

1 Innovative Technologies on Proton Irradiation Ground Tests for Space Solar Cells, M. Imaizumi, Y. Yuri, P.R. Bolton, T. Ohshima, IEEE 2011

1 comment on “Proton irradiation to enhance or degrade semiconductor performance

  1. ChristopherJames
    April 2, 2019

    I'm looking forward to reading your article on the effects of this! It's amazing to think what kind of things we can do when human minds concoct the most unthought-of experiments. If someone told me that nuking protons would create an amazing solution to someone's problems, I really wouldn't know what to think! 

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