Radiation Hardness Assurance


Pulsed Laser Single-Event Effects, Part 1: Fundamental Concepts

Stephen P. Buchner1,2 and Dale McMorrow1

1 Naval Research Laboratory, Code 6816, Washington DC
2 Jacobs, Inc., Landover, MD



Traditional single-event effects (SEE) testing involves exposing a device or circuit to a beam of energetic particles, usually generated by an accelerator. Particles that pass through the device produce dense tracks of electron-hole pairs that can disrupt the normal operation of the device. Such testing plays an essential role in radiation effects qualification and hardness assurance procedures. Challenges and limitations of accelerator testing, however, include the lack of spatial selectivity (in broad-beam measurements) and the limited number of facilities available, such that beam time is often difficult to obtain.

Carrier generation induced by pulsed-laser excitation has become an essential tool for the investigation of SEEs in microelectronic and nano-electronic structures. The ability to focus optical pulses to micrometer, or sub-micrometer spot sizes provides spatial selectivity not available with broad-beam ion sources. The qualitative capabilities of this approach include, among others, sensitive node identification, radiation hardened circuit verification, basic mechanisms investigations, model validation and calibration, screening devices for space missions, and fault injection to understand error propagation in complex circuits. Recent effort has built upon the success enabled by these qualitative benefits, and has focused on putting the laser SEE approaches on a more quantitative basis.

This presentation will describe the differences between ion- and laser induced charge generation in semiconductor materials. It will cover the basic physics associated with the single-photon absorption (SPA) and two-photon absorption (TPA) excitation processes, and will include a discussion of the optical and nonlinear-optical processes that impact and shape the delivery of charge into semiconductor devices. Having described the basic mechanisms involved, the next presentation will give concrete, practical examples of how powerful and useful the pulsed-laser technique testing is for elucidating the various aspects of SEEs.

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