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
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Professorship in Behavioural Science LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE
Foundation Partnerships Officer LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE

Most Commented

Social media icons

Gabriel Egan laments the narcissistic craving for others’ approval brought on, he says, by the use of social networking websites

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman