NRL, SiGe Devices and Circuits Group Collaborators Win IEEE NSREC Outstanding Paper Award

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A collaboration among the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), the Aerospace Corporation, and the Georgia Tech SiGe Devices and Circuits Group has been awarded the Outstanding Paper Award at the 2019 Nuclear and Space Radiation Effects Conference (NSREC). 

Held July 8-12 in San Antonio, Texas, the IEEE NSREC is the largest international forum for the presentation of advances in radiation effects in electronic devices, circuits, and systems. This is the second year in a row that members from this joint research project between Georgia Tech and NRL have received this award, which speaks to the interest of the scientific community in the work being done by these groups. 

Three students, Adrian Ildefonso, George Tzintzarov, and Delgermaa Nergui, are co-authors of this publication. They are all Ph.D. students in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), where they are advised by John D. Cressler, the Schlumberger Chair Professor in Electronics. Cressler is also a co-author of this publication and leads the SiGe Devices and Circuits Group.

The paper, “New Approach for Pulsed-Laser Single-Event Effects Testing That Mimics Heavy-Ion Charge Deposition,” was authored by Joel M. Hales in collaboration with A. Khachatrian, S. Buchner, J. H. Warner, A. Ildefonso, G. N. Tzintzarov, D. Nergui, D. M. Monahan, S. D. LaLumondiere, B. Lotshaw, J. D. Cressler, and D. McMorrow. Hales is also a Georgia Tech alumnus, where received his bachelor of science degree in Physics. After completing his Ph.D., he served as a principal research scientist in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech, where he worked in Joseph W. Perry’s research group. This work explores the use of pulsed lasers to emulate the effects of the space environment on electronic devices, circuits, and systems. A full-length journal paper based on this conference presentation has already been accepted for publication in the IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science and will be published in a special issue of the journal in January.

One of the big questions in the field of radiation effects is: “How can we best reproduce the effects of energized particles on electronics by using pulsed lasers?” When energized particles, such as protons or ions, traverse electronic components, they deposit charge, which can generate voltage and current glitches. These glitches have impacted the operation of several aircraft and spacecraft in the past. 

To ensure that these effects are not catastrophic, engineers perform extensive testing of electronics at particle accelerators. These facilities, however, are fairly expensive and can have limited availability. Thus, pulsed lasers have emerged as a complementary tool to accelerator testing, as they are more accessible and can provide more information than is attainable through traditional accelerator test campaigns. 

This paper introduces a novel optical approach to better emulate the effects of heavy ions on electronics using pulsed lasers. This approach uses a conical lens, known as an Axicon, in place of traditional spherical lenses to focus the laser beam. The result is a charge deposition profile that better approximates the one produced by an energized particle. This new experimental technique will not only impact pulsed laser experiments; it also has potential impacts for how qualification of space components is performed.

Aside from numerous technical accomplishments, this collaboration between NRL and Cressler’s research team at Georgia Tech School of ECE has provided an excellent mentorship opportunity for his graduate students. Throughout the years, Cressler’s students have worked closely with established researchers in the field of radiation effects. These researchers have served as mentors to his students, guiding them through the process of designing experiments to take advantage of the unique capabilities offered by NRL.

Photo caption: Pictured left to right are Adrian Ildefonso, John Cressler, Delgermaa Nergui, and George Tzintzarov. Cressler leads the SiGe Devices and Circuits Group, and he advises Ildefonso, Nergui, and Tzintzarov, who are Ph.D. students in the group.


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