NASA is seeking radiation tolerant standard cell libraries for processes below 28nm that are suitable for NASA missions in the natural space environment. As a response, Alphacore proposes to develop for NASA an innovative library of radiation-hardened (rad-hard) standard cells implemented in the GlobalFoundries (GF) 22nm fully depleted silicon on insulator (FDSOI) CMOS fabrication process (GF 22FDX).
Alphacore has been able to have the first version of the radiation tolerant library important cells already designed by the end of the Phase I program. The Phase I program provided an excellent basis for the Phase II program in which an extended, innovative radiation-tolerant standard cell library will be designed, fabricated, and tested. The library elements will be taped in the middle of the Phase II program and knowing the fabrication time for chips in the 22FDX program is 2.5 - 3 months, the evaluations can start approximately 3.5 months after the tapeout date. The elements will be tested for functionality, circuit performance and radiation hardness, including both single event effects (SEE) and total ionizing dose (TID).
During Phase II, Alphacore will not only support CMOS IP development for the most harsh NASA mission environments (low temperatures and high radiation), but also covering critical immediate needs in other areas such as the High-Performance Spaceflight Computing (HPSC) Chiplet, a radiation-hardened multi-core processor. NASA also will be developing single board computer based on this chiplet. These components are supposed to bring NASA (and DoD) a two orders of magnitude improvement in their space computing capabilities.
Alphacore’s radiation-hard analog library can help NASA design lightweight spacecrafts for future deep space missions. The low-mass will also keep costs low, and can accommodate multiple deep space missions. Future NASA missions that could benefit from components designed using Alphacore’s rad-hard library include Europa Clipper and the Titan Saturn System Mission, along with the Moon-to-Mars program and the Origins Space Telescope.
The technological advancements needed to maintain leadership in defense capabilities will require significant innovation in space components, and with the growing presence of the DoD in space (e.g., Space Force, hypersonic missile defense), Alphacore’s solution will be in high demand It will also benefit nuclear research, particle accelerators, and other applications with harsh environments.