Hardness assurance testing for proton direct ionization effects

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The potential for using the degraded beam of high-energy proton radiation sources for proton hardness assurance testing for ICs that are sensitive to proton direct ionization effects are explored. SRAMs were irradiated using high energy proton radiation sources (∼ 67-70∼ MeV). The proton energy was degraded using plastic or Al degraders. Peaks in the SEU cross section due to direct ionization were observed. To best observe proton direct ionization effects, one needs to maximize the number of protons in the energy spectrum below the proton energy SEU threshold. SRIM simulations show that there is a tradeoff between increasing the fraction of protons in the energy spectrum with low energies by decreasing the peak energy and the reduction in the total number of protons as protons are stopped in the device as the proton energy is decreased. Two possible methods for increasing the number of low energy protons is to decrease the primary proton energy to reduce the amount of energy straggle and to place the degrader close to the DUT to minimize angular dispersion. These results suggest that high-energy proton radiation sources may be useful for identifying devices sensitive to proton direct ionization. © 2012 IEEE.