Rad hard

September 07, 2000

The Naval Research Laboratory recently received a patent for microelectronic devices built on silicon-on-insulator, or SOI, structures that can operate in harsh environments with greater speed and significantly reduced power needs.

The chips are intended for use in outer space, nuclear weapons, nuclear reactors, and particle accelerators. Improved radiation hardness is also essential for semiconducting processes such as X-ray lithography, plasma etching, and reactive ion etching.

The researchers achieve increased radiation hardness by eliminating the positive charge build-up in the buried oxide layer. NRL's innovative process implants ions, such as silicon, into an oxide layer to create electron traps and recombination centers in the buried oxide layer that will neutralize any radiation-induced positive charge. A subsequent heat treatment removes any defects caused by the process.

NRL is transferring this technology to the private sector through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement for space and missile applications.
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Office of Naval Research

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