Demonstrated: Nanotube transistors can survive space

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory electronics science and technology engineers demonstrate the ability of single walled carbon nanotube transistors (SWCNTs) to survive the harsh space environment, investigating the effects of ionizing radiation on the crystalline structures and further supporting the development of SWCNT-based nanoelectronics for…

U.S.

Naval Research Laboratory electronics science and technology engineers demonstrate the ability of single walled carbon nanotube transistors (SWCNTs) to survive the harsh space environment, investigating the effects of ionizing radiation on the crystalline structures and further supporting the development of SWCNT-based nanoelectronics for use in harsh radiation environments.

“One  of the primary challenges for space electronics is mitigating the susceptibility of prolonged exposure to radiation that exists in the charged particle belts that encircle Earth,” said Cory Cress, materials research engineer. “These are the first controlled demonstrations showing little performance degradation and high tolerance to cumulative ionizing radiation exposure.

”Radiation effects take two forms, transient effects and cumulative effects. The former, referred to as single effect transients (SETs), result from a direct strike by an ionizing particle in space that causes a current pulse in the device. If this pulse propagates through the circuit it can cause data corruption that can be extremely detrimental to someone that relies on that signal, such as a person using GPS for navigation. NRL researchers have recently predicted that such effects are nearly eliminated for SWCNT-based nanoelectronics due to their small size, low density, and inherent isolation from neighboring SWCNTs in a device.

The cumulative effects in traditional electronics results from trapped charges in the oxides of the devices, including the gate oxide and those used to isolate adjacent devices, the latter being primary source of radiation-induced performance degradation in state-of-the-art complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) devices. The effect is manifested as a shift in the voltage needed to turn the transistor on or off. This initially results in power leakage, but can eventually cause
failure of the entire circuit.By
developing a SWCNT structure with a thin gate oxide made from thin
silicon oxynitride, NRL researchers recently demonstrated SWCNT
transistors that do not suffer from such radiation-induced performance
changes. This hardened dielectric material and naturally isolated
one-dimensional SWCNT structure makes them extremely radiation tolerant.The
ability for SWCNT-based transistors to be both tolerant to transient
and cumulative effects potentially enables future space electronics with
less redundancy and error-correction circuitry, while maintaining the
same quality of fidelity. This reduction in overhead alone would greatly
reduce power and improve performance over existing space-electronic
systems even if the SWCNT-based transistors operate at the same speed as
current technologies. Even greater benefits are foreseeable in the
future, once devices are developed that exceed the performance of
silicon-based transistors.Source: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

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