Tests developed to examine the effect of atmospheric neutrons on microelectronic circuits in aircraft

July 12, 2006

Brussels, 11 Jul 2006

French universities have got together to set up a laboratory to test the sensitivity of complex microelectronic circuits to natural background radiation.

Microelectronic circuits are everywhere, being found in everyday objects such as mobile phones and computers as well as in applications controlling financial transactions, telephone systems and in vehicles. As the components of microelectronic circuits get smaller and more complex, they become more and more sensitive to cosmic rays and particle fluxes (atmospheric neutrons).

Although levels of this radiation are relatively low at sea level, their level increases substantially with altitude, and at the cruising altitude of airliners, is 1,000 times higher than at sea level. Some particles in particular, like high energy neutrons, are particularly invasive, and can even get through reinforced concrete. They are therefore able to create severe problems in electronic circuits by affecting the electrical charge of the system's components.

Called ASTEP (Altitude SEE Test European Platform), the new laboratory is situated in the French Alps at an altitude of over 2,500 metres. Here, it will be well placed to study the effects of radiation on microelectronic circuits so that companies producing and using them will be better able to protect them.

The first experiment is already underway; millions of components, each able to store information in the form 0 or 1, have been set up at the platform. These will be observed for a number of months to see how many components change state - switching from 0 to 1 or vice-versa - because of the effects of radiation. The first results will be presented in September.

More information

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2006
Item source

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Lecturer/Assistant Professor of Psychology UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN (UCD)
Lecturer/Assistant Professor of Geography UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN (UCD)
Lecturer/Assistant Professor of Economics UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN (UCD)
Lecturer/Assistant Professor (BDIC) UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN (UCD)
Lecturer/Assistant Professor in Social Work UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN (UCD)

Most Commented

Home secretary says government will support 'best' universities

Man handing microphone to audience member

Academic attainment of disadvantaged students can be improved if they can decide how they are assessed, study claims

Woman drinking tea from saucer

Plugging a multibillion-pound deficit exacerbated by June’s poll result may require ‘drastic measures’, analysts have warned

Italy's gold medallist

New measures to ensure universities are ‘not penalised’ for taking poorer students also outlined for next stage of TEF

Classroom, school

Higher education institutions can and should do more to influence education at a secondary school level, says Edward Peck