The space environment comprises cosmic ray particles, heavy ions and high energy electrons and protons. Microelectronic circuits used in space applications such as satellites and space stations are prone to upsets induced by these particles. With transistor dimensions shrinking due to continued scaling, terrestrial integrated circuits are also increasingly susceptible to radiation upsets. Hence radiation hardening is a requirement for microelectronic circuits used in both space and terrestrial applications.
This work begins by exploring the different radiation hardened flip-flops that have been proposed in the literature and classifies them based on the different hardening techniques.
A reduced power delay element for the temporal hardening of sequential digital circuits is presented. The delay element single event transient tolerance is demonstrated by simulations using it in a radiation hardened by design master slave flip-flop (FF). Using the proposed delay element saves up to 25% total FF power at 50% activity factor. The delay element is used in the implementation of an 8-bit, 8051 designed in the TSMC 130 nm bulk CMOS.
A single impinging ionizing radiation particle is increasingly likely to upset multiple circuit nodes and produce logic transients that contribute to the soft error rate in most modern scaled process technologies. The design of flip-flops is made more difficult with increasing multi-node charge collection, which requires that charge storage and other sensitive nodes be separated so that one impinging radiation particle does not affect redundant nodes simultaneously. We describe a correct-by-construction design methodology to determine a-priori which hardened FF nodes must be separated, as well as a general interleaving scheme to achieve this separation. We apply the methodology to radiation hardened flip-flops and demonstrate optimal circuit physical organization for protection against multi-node charge collection.
Finally, the methodology is utilized to provide critical node separation for a new hardened flip-flop design that reduces the power and area by 31% and 35% respectively compared to a temporal FF with similar hardness. The hardness is verified and compared to other published designs via the proposed systematic simulation approach that comprehends multiple node charge collection and tests resiliency to upsets at all internal and input nodes. Comparison of the hardness, as measured by estimated upset cross-section, is made to other published designs. Additionally, the importance of specific circuit design aspects to achieving hardness is shown.