Accelerated beams test semiconductor devices for tolerances to space radiation.
Texas A&M University Cyclotron Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 88-Inch Cyclotron
1980’s (LBNL); 1995, upgrades in 2001, 2003 (TAMU)
Result of NP research:
Accelerator Physics development and energy loss studies
Application currently being supported by:
Large number of government and commercial agencies, including NASA JPL, Goddard, Johnson, Aerospace Corp., DOD, Air Force, Boeing
Impact/benefit to spin-off field:
Qualify components used in space radiation environments.
Solar Flares, cosmic rays, and the Earth’s Van Allen Belts serve as natural sources of space radiation. Such ionizing radiation can “upset” the normal function of semiconductor components found in orbiting communications satellites and space vehicles. The rates at which semiconductor devices “upset” can be measured in the laboratory with beams of high energy ions, such as those accelerated at Texas A&M for the Radiation Effects Facility (REF) and at the LBNL 88-Inch Cyclotron for Single Event Effects (SEE). These rates are used to qualify the components used in space radiation environments. Left, an electronic circuit is set up for testing in the 'in air' station at the TAMU SEE facility. The ability to test in air makes it possible to quickly change components and to easily monitor the operation of a circuit board while it is being bombarded with a particle beam.
The combination of the Texas A&M ECR ion source and the K500 superconducting cyclotron provides REF experimenters with 40 MeV protons and heavy ions at energies as high as 55 MeV/nucleon. The REF end station consists of computer-controlled device staging, dosimetry and energy degrader systems and device testing locations in both air and vacuum. At LBNL, the Advanced ECR ion source (AECR-U) and the 88-Inch Cyclotron provide a variety of so-called 'cocktail'. beams which are mixtures of charged heavy ions ranging in energy from 4.5 to 32.5 MeV/nucleon. Experimenters there have local control of six attenuator grids in the injection line which allow beam intensity control over seven orders of magnitude.
Electronics components are mounted into a vacuum chamber in preparation for tests.
Current REF and SEE usage at the two facilities is approximately 5000 hours per year by over 50 different commercial and government agencies, such as Aerospace Corp., Boeing Satellite Systems, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, International Rectifier, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and NASA Johnson Space Flight Center. Upgrades to the REF were made in 2001 and 2003.