The interest of the semiconductor industry for the ICs that can work in the open space has lead STMicroelectronics to enlarge its portfolio with some devices that can survive to radiations up to 300 krad/s, as the company has recently announced:
STMicroelectronics has extended its portfolio of radiation-hardened (rad-hard) devices by adding a series of LVDS1 drivers, receivers, and multiplexers carrying the US 300krad QML-V qualification2. ST’s new rad-hard devices exceed the performance of competing solutions, combining proven 130nm process technology with dedicated chip architecture and layout rules to achieve superior radiation-immunity and electrical characteristics. The development has been supported by the French Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the European Space Agency (ESA) for use in future commercial and government satellite projects. The ST devices are also QML-V qualified, enabling approval for use by space agencies and contractors worldwide.
The LVDS family incorporates many ICs that can be assembled in a module for the remote communication with a satellite or a space rocket, being robust to the radiations that are a source of noise in the aerospace environment (see Figure 1).
(Source: STMicroelectronics web catalog)
The product has been tested in radiation facilities by some testing procedures, whose goal is to verify the robustness of the device to the most common errors that can occur in the aerospace environment, like for example:
SEL (Single Event Latch Up)
SEU (Single Event Upset)
SETI (Single Event Transient Interruption)
I extensively described these errors in aerospace environments in my blog series about Failures in Aerospace, precisely:
(Failures in Aerospace Applications, Part 2) that contains the description of SEL
(Failures in Aerospace Applications, Part 3) that contains the description of SEU
(Failures in Aerospace Applications, Part 4) that contains the description of SETI
The qualification process of ICs for aerospace application has to simulate the noise that may be present in the space environment, so the reliability test and the irradiation campaign are really two important steps, to reach the zero-failure condition of the aerospace modules containing the ICs.
The interest of the Microelectronics companies for aerospace application is further confirmed by a new announcement of STMicroelectronics Company:
ST has supported European aerospace applications since 1977, having been qualified by the European Space Agency since the Agency’s inception. It continues to lead the performance enhancement of rad-hard products, as demonstrated with the current launch.
Today, ST is bringing into the JANS system the innovation released last year within the ESCC (European Space Components Coordination) program. Called JANSR+, the innovation consists of a series of 100krad JANSR high-dose-rate bipolar transistors with an additional 100krad low-dose-rate (100 mrad/s) test performed on each wafer. Furthermore, ST has announced it will complete its JANSR+ offer with data from very-low-dose-rate (10 mrad/s) tests, demonstrating the outstanding robustness to radiation effect of its technology.
The interest for the aerospace applications of ICs is thus growing both in Europe and in the USA, hence an agreement of regulatory bodies is required. A still open question is if a device that is ESCC qualified, it can obtain the JANS specification and vice versa. The need of common rules and criteria for the certification of the robustness of an Integrated Circuit to the radiation is becoming an important point to guarantee a good success of the companies producing aircrafts, satellites etc… The success of this kind of companies is deeply correlated with the effectiveness of the qualification process of the rad-hard ICs produced by companies like STMicroelectronics (see Figure.2):
(Source: STMicroelectronics web catalog)
The Aerospace and Defense Products can be found online at ST Microelectronics web catalog.
Do you agree? Do you think the aerospace market will expand its portfolio in the next years? Have you got experience with aerospace products?