The Role of Singly-Charged Particles in Microelectronics Reliability
Abstract: Lightly ionizing particles in any radiation environment have the potential to induce single event upsets in scaled CMOS technologies. As microelectronic devices become smaller and require less charge to hold state, they inherently become more sensitive to ionizing radiation. In two test campaigns, single event upsets due to protons and muons, both singly-charged and therefore lightly ionizing, are experimentally demonstrated. The sources of errors in the terrestrial environment, commonly thought to be dominated by neutron-induced events, are shown through simulation to include ionization from muons. Similarly, errors in proton rich extra-terrestrial environments may be dominated by proton ionization rather than spallation. The consequences of such a high sensitivity are significant for memory elements where error detection and correction are costly and therefore require characterizations of the failure rates. In this dissertation, the radiation environments and energy deposition processes of charged particles are explored and the potential for upsets due to direct ionization from singly-charged particles is established. Experimental methods complemented with computational models of radiation transport test this hypothesis. Further, modeling of the natural environments predict the contribution of singly-charged particles to field fails.