Boron 10 and All That Jazz: The Problem of Thermal Neutrons on Integrated Circuit Reliability

Presented at the 2022 RADNEXT Web Lecture Series

Radiation effects often dominate reliability failures in electronics. This is particularly true in high reliability terrestrial environments encountered in autonomous vehicles, supercomputer clusters, industrial (medical and nuclear) electronics, and aerospace electronics; anywhere that a failure, even a “soft” one, can lead to loss of life or mission failure. After a quick review of the primary environments where thermal neutrons are present in relatively high concentrations, we consider the primary nuclear reaction of concern – the interaction between 10B and thermal neutrons. We then examine the various ways and regions in which 10B is introduced or accumulated in the semiconductor fabrication process. We consider some methods of mitigation from the IC manufacturing and packaging point of view and highlight the need for thermal neutron test facilities and standardized methodologies for dealing with and determining the thermal neutron component of SEE.


Sept. 19, 2022 (4:00-5:00PM CST USA). (online event)

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Pertinent Space Radiation Effects in Power Electronics

Presented at the Texas Instruments “Lunch-and-Learn” Lecture Series

Radiation effects often dominate reliability failures in electronics – this is particularly true in the harsh space environment. After reviewing a recent high-profile example of such a failure, we will consider the space environment and the different types of radiation effects that can cripple an IC both chronic dose and single-event effects. We then focus the talk on the two destructive single-event effects that are the dominant cause of power device failures in space: Single Event Burnout (SEB) and Single Event Gate Rupture (SEGR).


June 9, 2022 (12:00-1:00PM CST USA).   At Texas Instruments South Campus.

Integrated Circuit Reliability in Radiation Environments

Presented at the IEEE Custom Integrated Circuit Conference (CICC) – Session 12: Forum: Power

Management for Harsh Environments

This talk considers two key harsh environment applications – spacecraft systems and terrestrial autonomous vehicles. We will examine the various ways things that can go wrong and the impact to the performance and operation of advanced integrated circuits exposed to the characteristic particle radiations in the low-earth orbit and terrestrial environments. We then narrow our focus to one failure mode, the single-event-latchup (SEL). SEL can occur when a single radiation event injects enough charge in CMOS circuits to turn-on parasitic bipolar transistors and create a high-current latch. SEL is a failure mode that poses a major risk for electronics in high reliability applications since even when seemingly recoverable, it can cause larger system failures and often leaves latent damage accumulation that can greatly reduce component lifetime. We close with a look at ways SEL can be reduced or eliminated via process, circuit-layout, circuit-design, and system operational modes.


IEEE CICC, Tuesday April 26, 2022 (Web)


Effects of X- and Gamma Ray Induced Total Ionizing Dose (TID) in Medical Electronics

Presented at the 2022 State of Texas Chapter of Health Physics Society

In this talk we will focus on x-ray/gamma photon effects on electronics and on total ionizing dose effects (we will ignore displacement damage dose and single-event effects since these are not generally a problem unless different radiation sources are considered). We will consider how MOSFETs and Bipolar Junction Transistors (BJT) degrade in unique ways as a function of ionizing dose and consider the types of medical applications most at risk of suffering reliability failure from this effect.


April 23, 2022, College Station, TX, (Web)


Texas Instruments Radiation Handbook for Electronics!

Robert was a primary author for the Texas Instruments “Radiation Handbook for Electronics” available here on

This comprehensive 100+ page e-book features an overview of radiation effects in microelectronics, as well as process and design considerations for engineers who work on space, industrial and/or terrestrial applications where the radiation environment is a concern.

See EDN News report on the new handbook here!