Rad-Hard Silicon Technologies at BAE Systems

Authored by: Richard W. Berger

Extreme Environment Electronics

Print publication date:  November  2012
Online publication date:  November  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439874301
eBook ISBN: 9781439874318
Adobe ISBN:


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BAE Systems has offered unique semiconductor technologies for three decades. Most of these technologies are explicitly optimized for radiation-hardened applications, and the semiconductors produced using them have flown on countless space missions. The Semiconductor Technology Center (STC) located at the BAE Systems facility in Virginia was originally constructed as one of a number of IBM pilot lines when this facility was the IBM Federal Systems group. The first technology installed during the late 1970s was a 2 μm NMOS technology. It was quickly followed by a 1.25 μm NMOS technology for use as part of the U.S. government's Very High Speed Integrated Circuits (VHSIC) program. This technology was aimed at military but not necessarily space applications. The technology was optimized for the mil-spec temperature range of −55°C to +125°C, although some experimentation was performed in cryogenic technologies with circuits operating in a liquid nitrogen environment. Migration to the now-standard complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technologies began at the 1 μm node [1] during the mid-1980s, and at this level of lithography work was initiated to make explicit process modifications to enhance the technology against the effects of the space radiation environment. The process technology baselines were IBM commercial process technologies, and the STC transferred five generations of IBM commercial technology into radiation-hardened equivalents prior to the divestiture of the IBM Federal Systems division to Loral in 1994. The most advanced of the IBM technologies was the 0.5 μm technology known in IBM by the designation “CMOS5,” with the radiation-hardened variant called RHCMOS5M.

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