FP7 Unione Europea

Efforts to the development of Rad-Hard

1.   Space market is a niche market.

Even if these problems have been carefully studied since the ’60s actually there are not many devices designed to be rad-hard because space market represents a niche among the overall silicon market; volumes for silicon devices of this nature are very low while silicon foundries are structured to take profit on devices released on a mass production. All  technological and scientific efforts are pushed to application satisfying a consumer market.

2. This niche market requires too much technology effort for a consumer market process line

Moreover, technology efforts profunded to realise devices of such kind are difficult to be placed in a process line finely tuned to be quick and reactive to a continuously changing consumer market.

3.  Space market generally use “old technologies” (considered mature and secure)

Space market generally uses “old technologies” in order to take advantage of the maturity of either the  process and the design but this leads also to avoid or delay the introduction of new technologies which  can be profitable as well. This technological shortage is growing because of an increasing demand of storage on space application (e.g. storage capacity for environmental or weather satellites) and mass storage using non volatile devices is becoming crucial.

4.  Space electronics has high-level requirements

These requirements (first of all  resistance to radiation,  mechanical resistance (during launch) thermal resistance) basically are not satisfied by standard consumer electronics . Large silicon foundries, due to low volumes required bay space market, are not appealed by these requirements and the result is a base technology non suited for space, a technology lack.

5.  ITAR -  International traffic in Arms Regulation. protocol.

In USA some silicon foundries has developed silicon process with a certain resistance to radiation and are involved in device design for military applications. The main problem related to such realities is that these players can only work for militaries and cannot provide their components and technologies outside USA. That’s called ITAR  — International traffic in Arms Regulation. Players in space application find difficulties in providing components and technologies so they’re pushing on ITAR free technologies.