Radiation Hardness Assurance


Laser Testing – Airbus Needs and Desirable Test option for the future

Sébastien MORAND 1

1 Airbus Defence and Space, France



One of the most stringent selection criteria for space electronics stems from the sensitivity of a given electronic part against Single Event Effects (SEE) induced by the space environment. The identification and characterization of those effects are mandatory in order to ensure space systems proper functionality.

The standard approach to characterize Single Event Effects is to use Terrestrial Particle Accelerator that can provide beam with similar type of particles as the space environment. By testing a device under heavy ion or proton beam, the sensitivity of an electronic part can be drawn. The use of different ion linear energy transfer (LET) and different proton energy allow to quantify the sensitivity against a given environment and application case.

The number of facility that allows such type of testing is highly limited over the world. Moreover, a continuous need of testing legacy technology and the fast-growing demand of Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) parts shall further limit the availability of such accelerators.

Already in the late 80’s, it has been identified that pulsed laser beams could be used as an alternative means to characterize the sensitivity of electronics to radiation. The use of specific photon energy testing generates localized charged tracks induced by photon absorption from a laser pulse into a semiconductor material. Bearing in mind some physical limits, most single event effects can be reproduced in a repeatable manner.

Taking those aspects into consideration, Airbus has been one of the pioneering European industrial to develop and use an in-house SEE Laser test facility as a complementary tool to standard terrestrial beams. The use of laser testing from an industrial perspective is then shared in order to illustrate different use-case of interest and how it shall complete the existing landscape of SEE characterization means. The presentation concludes on some perspective in regards of new needs and evolution for laser testing methodologies.