Aerospace & Defence

Radiation tolerant ICs to power small satellite constellations

5th October 2017
Lanna Deamer


Intersil has announced the first three members of its new family of radiation-tolerant plastic-package ICs designed to support the emerging field of small satellites that will provide solutions such as high speed Internet connections to hundreds of millions of users in communities, governments, and businesses worldwide.

Fleets of hundreds of small satellites will create mega-constellation networks to deliver broadband Internet links from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to every corner of the globe, including rural areas without wireless connectivity access.

Intersil’s rad-tolerant plastic parts include the ISL71026M 3.3V Controller Area Network (CAN) transceiver, ISL71444M 40V quad precision Rail-to-Rail Input and Output (RRIO) op amp, and the ISL71001M 6A Point-Of-Load (POL) voltage regulator. These ICs deliver rad-tolerance performance at a much lower cost point versus radiation assurance tested Class V (space level) products. All three ISL71xxxM devices go through characterisation testing, which includes Total Ionising Doze (TID) up to 30krads (Si) for Single Event Effects (SEE). SEE take into account single event burnout (SEB), Single Event Latch-up (SEL), Single Event Transients (SETs) and Single Event Functional Interrupts (SEFIs) at a Linear Energy Transfer (LET) of 43MeV•cm2/mg.

Intersil’s rad-tolerant plastic packaging flow leverages the company’s more than 50 years of spaceflight experience developing rad hard (>75krad) and rad-tolerant (<75krad) products for extremely harsh environments. The upfront radiation effects characterisation and AEC-Q100 automotive-like qualification gives customers the utmost confidence to design Intersil radiation-tolerant plastic parts into cost-sensitive small satellites for LEO mission profiles up to five years. The ISL71xxxM are also well suited for high altitude (>40km) avionic systems, launch vehicles that are prone to heavy ions, and medical equipment where radiation is a concern.

“The short mission life of small satellites and less stringent low earth orbit is driving the trend toward low-cost Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) ICs, but not without costly upscreening and spaceflight reliability issues,” said Philip Chesley, Intersil’s Vice President of Industrial Analog and Power products. “Intersil’s cost effective, radiation-tolerant plastic ICs overcome the reliability issues and hidden costs of COTS, giving satellite manufacturers the confidence and mission success assurance to launch and operate mega-constellations.”

The ISL71026M radiation-tolerant 3.3V CAN transceiver provides serial data transmission at speeds up to 1Mbps. Up to 120 transceivers can be connected to a single CAN bus to reduce cabling/harness Size, Weight And Power (SWAP) costs for satellite command and telemetry systems.

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