MC-ORACLE: Innovative simulation tool for more reliable electronic components in space environment

Ref-Nr: TDO0212

Technology abstract

MC-ORACLE is an innovative simulation software system dedicated to the evaluation of the reliability of electronic components and systems in natural (space, atmosphere, radioactivity) or artificial (particle accelerator) radiative environments. 

Technology Description

Modern electronic components are vulnerable to natural and artificial radiation, which can generate a transient current in a transistor (SET: Single Event Transient), which can spread within a logic chain and lead to misinformation. In the specific case of a Static Random Access Memory (SRAM), the transient current can create a logic gate switch, called Single Event Upset (SEU). Depending on the application, the consequences of this misinformation can be disastrous. In order to increase the safety of equipment and people, the risk assessment and characterization of electronic components through the development of reliable simulation tools has become essential.
Developed by the team RADIAC (Radiation & Components) of the Institute of Electronics and Systems (University of Montpellier) and promoted by the SATT AxLR, MC-ORACLE is an innovative simulation software system dedicated to the evaluation of the reliability of electronic components and systems in natural (space, atmosphere, radioactivity) or artificial (particle accelerator) radiative environment. Since RADIAC is deeply involved in space projects, MC-ORACLE has been initially developed for the simulation of electronic components in the space environment where ionising radiation is quite high (solar wind, solar flare, cosmic radiation).
The MC-ORACLE simulation software analyses the error rate (SEU) of SRAM Memories (flip-flop) and the transient currents generated by the particles in the electrodes of the component. This tool can address the most problematic particles (neutrons, protons, ions, alpha) for different technologies. The innovative aspect lies in the fact that the simulation is only based on the physics and no longer on semi-empirical models. It is then possible to change physical quantities such as the supply voltage, electrode dimensions, geometry of the structure, type of materials. This implies a multi-physics and multiple-scale approach perfectly handled by MC-ORACLE.

Innovations & Advantages

Innovative Aspects: The simulation of the effect of ionising radiation on the components offers faster implementation (several minutes to several hours), the possibility to analyse the reliability of an electronic system before fabrication, as well as evaluating the impact of any type of radiation, at low cost. MC-ORACLE is a Monte Carlo tool and simulates the interaction of a large number of particles within a component and implies a multi-physics and multiple-scale approach. The main advantages of the technology are a Short computation time (optimisation, pre-computation), Ability to address the most problematic particles (neutrons, protons, ions, alpha), Possibility to change physical quantities such as supply voltage, electrodes dimensions, geometry of the structure, type of materials

Further Information

Current and Potential Domains of Application

The MC-ORACLE simulation tool targets the domain of embedded systems in general:
·          Foundries: the tool offers the possibility to enter numerous parameters (materials, electrical properties, geometry) in order to anticipate the sensitivity of the electronic component to radiations before fabrication.
·         Editors of electronic CAD software: with a better evaluation of the reliability of the component under radiation, the designer can optimize the amplitude of the current on the electrodes and suggest radiation hardened solutions
·         End-users: the software can help end-users in the characterization of the reliability of a given system regarding a dedicated radiative environment
Indirectly, MC-ORACLE targets the following markets:
·         Avionics components manufacturers
·         Transports (railway and automotive)
·         Energy (Nuclear Environment)
Any system requiring radiation hardening