NASA Office of Logic Design

NASA Office of Logic Design

A scientific study of the problems of digital engineering for space flight systems,
with a view to their practical solution.

References: Radiation


Title, Authors, Reference, Link Abstract, Summary, Conclusions

Radiation Results of the SER Test of Actel, Xilinx and Altera FPGA instances

March 31, 2004

Executive Summary
  • Cosmic ray soft error rate was measured for five different architectures of FPGAs, from three different vendors, using three different programming technologies.
  • Test methodology was compliant with JESD-89.
  • SRAM-based FPGAs are liable to configuration SEU and SEFI when exposed to high-energy neutrons.
  • Antifuse-based and Flash-based FPGAs did not exhibit any configuration SEU or SEFI when exposed to high-energy neutrons.
  • Test results allowed the calculation of the ratio of SEFIs to SEUs.

Basic Nuclear Survivability Concepts
for Navy Computational Electronics

Brederick E. Warnock
Protection Systems Department
Naval Surface Warfare Center
NAVSWC TR 90-22, October 1990

This report presents basic nuclear survivability concepts for Navy computers and electronics, both in stand alone development and in embedded applications.  It presents, in an overview manner, several basic nuclear protection principles (hardware and software) used in the concept and development phases.

The Effects of Upsets within the Configuration Memory of SRAM FPGAs


n_wirthlin_2002_aerospace notes

: Exploit benefits of programmable FPGAs safely in a harsh radiation environment.

Topics Include: Discussion of radiation effects on functionality, observability (half-latches), and simulations.

Odd url, please copy this into your browser:

Electronics Radiation Response Information Center (ERRIC)

The Electronics Radiation Response Information Center (ERRIC) is a large repository database (over 11,800 data sets) of electronic piecepart response to nuclear and space radiation. Maintained by DTRA as the successor to the Component Response Information Center, formerly operated by the Army Research Laboratory, ERRIC makes data readily available to the nuclear and space effects on electronics hardening and hardness assurance communities. The ERRIC data has been cleared for public release.


The information stored in the ERRIC database contains device information (type, manufacturer, sample size), piecepart identification (lot number, serial number, and date of manufacture), test information (testing
facility, date of test, test descriptions) and supplemental information. The ERRIC collection has been upgraded to a FoxPro database, allowing more versatile and user-friendly queries.

SEU Hardening Techniques for Retargetable, Scalable, Sub-Micron Digital Circuits and Libraries

M. P. Baze, J. C. Killens, R. A. Paup, W. P. Snapp
Boeing Space and Communications, Seattle, WA

Thirteenth Biennial Single Effects Symposium
Manhattan Beach, CA, April, 2002


  • A number of design options exist for improving the SEU hardness of digital logic.
  • However, specific considerations and restrictions must be observed for each technique if these techniques are to be applied over a range of process technologies and reduced feature size.

Includes a nice table comparing different flip-flop hardening techniques vs. power, area, speed, and hardness.

(May 7, 2002)

Backside Device Irradiation for Single Event Upset Tests of Advanced Devices

Gary M. Swift
JPL/California Institute of Technology

Thirteenth Biennial Single Effects Symposium
Manhattan Beach, CA, April, 2002


Tales from the Cave

  • Texas A&M Wishlist:
    • Upstream Degrader (for uniformity)
    • LET and/or Energy Spectrum Detector
  • Backside thinning is NOT so easy
    • Yield Problems
    • Need Long-Range Ions
  • Backside Irradiation Requires Careful LET Assignments

Examples include SDRAMs and the Power PC (May 7, 2002)

A comprehensive method for the evaluation of the sensitivity to SEUs of FPGA-based applications

R. Velazco, F. Faure: TIMA-QLF
G. Swift: JPL-NASA

Thirteenth Biennial Single Effects Symposium
Manhattan Beach, CA, April, 2002


A discussion of proposed test methods for performing SEE characterization of FPGAs.  The Altera MAX7000, a 3.3V EEPROM-based PLD will be the test vehicle.

(May 6, 2002)  Could not make a .pdf file.

Latent Damage From Single-Event Latchup

Heidi N. Becker, Tetsuo F. Miyahira, and Allan H. Johnston
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Thirteenth Biennial Single Effects Symposium
Manhattan Beach, CA, April, 2002


  • Unless you look for latent damage, you don’t know it’s there
  • Permanent structural damage may eventually cause device failure
  • Latchup circumvention should address concerns about latent damage
  • The semiconductor industry is moving toward using more levels of metal and smaller interconnects

    => next generation devices may exhibit a higher rate of latent damage

Note: Better image quality in the .ppt file.  (May 2, 2002)

Degradation of Satellite Electronics Produced by Energetic Electrons

D.R. Hollars, J.F. Janni, and M.F. Schneider
Air Force Weapons Laboratory,
Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico

Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Vol. 14, No. 10, October 1977
pp. 621-625


A detailed radiation shielding analysis has been performed of an advanced design U.S. Air Force spacecraft, which contains several thousand complementary metal oxide semiconductors (CMOS). In order to precisely determine the on-orbit radiation dose to these semiconductors, a very extensive computer model of the entire satellite was prepared using engineering drawings, photographs, and direct measurements. Radiation transport calculations were then performed using this model, considering high-energy electrons entering through 512 solid angles to determine the electron radiation doses for a carefully selected sample of representative CMOS in each electronics subsystem. Shielding was then designed for the more sensitive components, with considerable care given to mass minimization. Simple design improvements in CMOS packaging and circuit board orientation can produce substantial increases in component lifetime with almost no weight penalty.

Review of commercial spacecraft anomalies and
single-event-effect occurrences

Barillot, C.; Calvel, P.
Alcatel Espace, Toulouse, France
IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science
pp. 453 - 460
April 1996
Volume: 43 Issue: 2 Part: 1

Single-event effects (SEEs) have been observed in space since 1975. This paper is a short inventory of the single-event anomalies encountered in flight on operational satellites. Initially, a brief outline of the events and their origins is traced, and the various parameters involved in the analysis of the anomalies are described. Finally, various SEE anomalies are presented.

Single-event-effect mitigation from a system perspective

LaBel, K.A.; Gates, M.M.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science
pp. 654 - 660
April 1996
Volume: 43 Issue: 2 Part: 1

With the sharp decline in the availability of radiation-hardened devices from manufacturers, as well as the desire to shrink power, weight, and volume of spacecraft systems, the use of devices that are susceptible to single-event effects (SEEs) has become commonplace. We present herein a perspective and user's tool for understanding SEE's and potential system-level mitigation techniques.

Characterization Summary for a Radiation Hardened 16kx1 SRAM

Robin H. Passow, J. Christiansen, R. Rabe, and K. Golke
Honeywell SSED

IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science
Vol. NS-33, No., 6, December 1986
pp. 1535-1540

A radiation-hard 16kx1 SRAM with a typical access time of less than 100 ns and total dose hardness to 1E6 rads(SiO2) has been developed.  Extensive radiation characterization has been performed with the aid of a test system developed to support testing in various radiation environments including total dose, dose rate upset, dose rate survival, dose rate photocurrent, and single event upset.  Total dose testing of the 16kx1 included characterization of critical ac tiing parameters as a function of dose as well as observation of standby current behavior as a function of array pattern.  Dose rate tests were designed to explore the SRM's sensitivities to Vdd, temperature, memory cell resistor value, dose rate pulse width, operational mode, and array pattern.   Single event upset testing was also performed under a matrix of test conditions, including variations in supply voltage, temperature, memory cell resistor value, and particle angle of incidence.  This paper describes 16kx1 SRAM radiation test procedures and characterization test results.

Radiation Hardness Assurance Issues Associated with COTS in JPL Flight Systems:
The Challenge of Europa

Charles Barnes and Allan Johnston
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, California 91 109, USA



With the decreasing availability of radiation hardened electronics and the new NASA paradigm of faster, more aggressive and less expensive space missions, there has been an increasing emphasis on using high performance commercial microelectronic parts and circuits in NASA spacecraft.  The use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts and circuits in space systems poses many potential problems, especially with regard to radiation hardness assurance (RHA) for JPL planetary missions. This is particularly true for the proposed JPL mission to Europa where the radiation requirement is very high. In this paper, we discuss COTS RHA issues within the context of the needs of a mission like Europa.

18 Years of Flight Experience with the UoSAT Microsatellites

Craig I. Underwood
The Surrey Space Centre, University of Surrey

Proceedings European Space Components Conference
21-23 March 2000
ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
pp. 5-12


Over the past 18 years the University of Surrey has gained significant experience of the behaviour of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies in space, through the design, manufacture and operation of fifteen low-Earth orbiting satellites carrying out communications, remote-sensing, space-science, military, and technology demonstration missions.

Several of these spacecraft have carried radiation monitoring payloads which have enabled the behaviour of the COTS devices to be characterised with respect to the measured ionising radiation environment.

This paper reports on the principal effects observed, and describes, in general, the various methodologies that have been used to minimise the risk associated with the use of COTS devices in these spacecraft. Resilient error-detection and correction coding schemes are shown to be important to protect spacecraft data and control software, as is the need for adequate levels of shielding against total ionising radiation dose.

Draft_1019_5.pdf Radiation Test Standard (Draft)

Programmable Elements

Seu and Sel Response of the Westinghouse 64K E2PROM, Analog Devices AD7876 12-Bit Adc, and the Intel 82527 Serial Communications Controller

Sexton, F.W.; Hash, G.L.; Connors, M.P.; Murray, J.R.; Schwank, J.R.; Wlnokur, P.S.; Bradley, E.G.
Radiation Effects Data Workshop, 1994 IEEE, pp. 55 -63

Abstract (excerpt)
The Westinghouse SA3823 64K E2PROM radiation-hardened SONOS non-volatile memory exhibited a single-event-upset (SEU) threshold in the read mode of 60 MeV-cm2/mg and 40 MeV-cm2/mg for data latch errors.  The minimum threshold for address latch errors was 35 MeV-cm2/mg.  Hard errors were observed with Kr at VP = 8.5V and with Xe at programming voltages (VP) as low as 7.5 V.  No hard errors were observed with Cu at any angle up to VP=11V.   The system specification of no hard errors for Ar ions or lighter was exceeded.   No single-event latchup (SEL) was observed in these devices for the conditions examined.

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