University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 20.12.2017 Single-event effects from space and atmospheric radiation in memory components (Bosser)

Start date: Dec 20, 2017 12:00 PM

End date: Dec 20, 2017 03:00 PM

Location: Ylistönrinne, FYS1

Alexandre Bosser
M.Sc. Alexandre Bosser defends his doctoral dissertation in Physics "Single-event effects from space and atmospheric radiation in memory components". Opponent Professor Fernanda Lima Kastensmidt (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) and custos Docent Arto Javanainen (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in English.


Electronic memories are ubiquitous components in electronic systems: they are used to store data, and can be found in all manner of industrial, automotive, aerospace, telecommunication and entertainment systems. Memory technology has seen a constant evolution since the first practical dynamic Random-Access Memories (dynamic RAMs) were created in the late 60's. The demand for ever-increasing performance and capacity and decrease in power consumption was met thanks to a steady miniaturization of the component features: modern memory devices include elements barely a few tens of atomic layers thick and a few hundred of atomic layers wide.

The side effect of this constant miniaturization was an increase in the sensitivity of these devices to radiation. Since the first radiation-induced single-event effects (SEEs) were identified in satellites in the late 70’s and particle-induced memory upsets were replicated in laboratory tests, radiation hardness has been a concern for computer memory manufacturers and for systems designers as well. In the early days, the need for data storage in radiation-rich environments, e.g. nuclear facilities, particle accelerators and space, primarily for military use, created a market for radiation-hardened memory components, capable of withstanding the effects of radiation ; however, this market dwindled with the end of the Cold War and the loss of government interest. In a matter of years, the shortage of available radiation-hard components led system designers to turn to so-called Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) components, with the added benefit of higher performance at a lower cost.

Since COTS devices are not designed with radiation hardness in mind, each COTS component must be assessed before it can be included in a system where reliability is important – a process known as Radiation Hardness Assurance (RHA). This has led to the emergence of radiation testing as a standard practice in the industry (and in the space industry in particular). Irradiation tests with particle accelerators and radioactive sources are performed to estimate a component’s radiation-induced failure rate in a given radiation environment, and thus its suitability for a given mission.

The present work focuses on SEE testing of memory components. It presents the requirements, difficulties and shortcomings of radiation testing, and proposes methods for radiation test data processing; the detection and study of failure modes is used to gain insight on the tested components. This study is based on data obtained over four years on several irradiation campaigns, where memory devices of different technologies (static RAMs, ferroelectric RAM, magnetoresistive RAM, and flash) were irradiated with proton, heavy-ion, neutron and muon beams. The yielded data also supported the development of MTCube, a CubeSat picosatellite developed jointly by the Centre Spatial Universitaire (CSU) and LIRMM in Montpellier, whose mission is to carry out in-flight testing on the same memory devices. The underlying concepts regarding radiation, radiation environments, radiation-matter interactions, memory component architecture and radiation testing are introduced in the first chapters.

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Alexandre Bosser
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