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The application of laser SEE testing as a new radiation effects validation and screening technique for COTS components

Richard Sharp and Jason Gow

Cobham RAD Europe Ltd


The technique of employing pulsed lasers for evaluating single-event effect (SEE) sensitivity in semiconductor components has been known for some two decades but remains niche. The advent of widespread use of COTS components in ‘new space’ applications requires a fresh approach to radiation testing and lasers offer an opportunity to make this affordable for fast, low cost missions.

Pulsed lasers are excellent tools for the rapid screening of large numbers of parts, whether simply for latch-up or for more detailed SEE investigations. Package preparation is simpler than for heavy ion testing as no die thinning is required. Both front-side (wire-bonded devices) and back-side (flip chips) lasing can be applied. The ability to lay down very large arrays of, e.g. 10,000 laser spots under automatic control with a precision of 1 micron gives the advantages of microbeam and broad beam testing in one system. Device manufacturers can use the technique to identify sensitive areas on a die at an early stage in the design process, saving time to market and reducing costs.

With a laser system, the user can carry out testing when he wants, in his lab and without having to book beam time up to six months in advance. This is ideal for modern LEO missions, where the complete programme to launch may be no more than two years. This presentation will outline the advantages of laser SEE testing, illustrated by the SEREEL2 system offered by Cobham, and examples of the results that can be obtained will be shown.