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Exposure to ionizing radiation has the potential to catastrophically modify the operation, and destroy, electronic components in microseconds. The electrification of aircraft necessitates the need to use the most power dense and lowest loss semiconductor devices available, and the increasing supply voltages results in extremely high electric fields within the devices. These conditions create the worst case environment for the Single Event Effect (SEE), the instantaneous alteration in device response after high energy particle interaction, with a destructive form of SEE, the single event burnout (SEB), resulting in total failure of the device with potentially explosive consequences. To enable circuits to operate with these high supply voltages, SiC is rapidly becoming the semiconductor of choice. However, the radiation response of SiC power devices during operation is unknown. Here we show that SiC offers a 60% reduction in cosmic ray sensitivity in comparison to Si devices with an equivalent voltage rating. The data show that Si fails when subjected to a heavy ion impact with Linear Energy Transfer (LET) equivalent to 0.2% of the silver ions commonly used for SEE testing. In total contrast, we show that SiC does not exhibit failure during exposure to any heavy ion LET up to values three times greater than those commonly used in testing at any bias up to 99% of the breakdown voltage. The data show that SiC is a robust material and therefore has the potential to replace Si as the material of choice for high reliability avionic applications, as it far exceeds the performance of Si in cosmic ray environments, facilitating significant advances in the electrification of aircraft to be made in the near future.

Source : Scopus preview – Scopus – Document details – Single event burnout sensitivity of SiC and Si