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Author Topic: How does radiation effect the electronics of technology?  (Read 29340 times)

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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I was listening to a news report that stated in Chernobyl they could not use robots because the radiation fields ruined the electrical systems.

So how does radiation in high levels effect technology, electronics and why?


 

Offline graham.d

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How does radiation effect the electronics of technology?
« Reply #1 on: 31/03/2011 17:41:39 »
Radiation comes in different forms and its ability to affect electronic devices depends on its ability to penetrate the electronic equipment and then to penetrate the packages with semiconductor devices in them. Usually it will be beta and gamma radiation that will have this ability; alpha particles will usually be stopped by outer packaging very easily. The common quality that is measured in Radiation is its ability to ionise materials. In semiconductors this ionising radiation can have two major effects: one is to produce electron-hole pairs which can create "soft" errors (errors in operation but not permanent damage) and, if the radiation is sufficient, permanent damage by creating large numbers of charges with sufficient energy to be injected into Silicon dioxide regions (where they stick) and change a transistors characteristics. Such high levels of radiation can also disrupt the crystal lattice and damage the transistors in that way. Normal semiconductor devices such as those in a typical computer would have sufficient soft errors at relatively low levels of radiation to render the computer unusable though not necessarily cause permanent damage. These levels are not generally sufficiently low that you would want to stand around in for long in it either! I suspect this is the sort of levels that we may be getting close to at the site in Japan at present. At the next level up where humans would be seriously harmed is similar to the point where normal semiconductors also get permanent damaged.

However, it is possible to make semiconductor devices that are very resilient to radiation - at least for a period of time. This involves different processing and careful design and, as a result, they are not cheap to make. Typically they will use a silicon-on-insulator process and complete computers can be made (and are made for military applications) that can withstand around 1 megarad, which would be lethal to a human. I don't know what levels were reached at Chernobyl but I would guess such semiconductors would have worked for some time there. The problem would be that it would take some months (or years) to design and build a suitable "robot" from such a set of components (which may or may not be readiliy available).
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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How does radiation effect the electronics of technology?
« Reply #2 on: 31/03/2011 19:52:49 »
Radiation comes in different forms and its ability to affect electronic devices depends on its ability to penetrate the electronic equipment and then to penetrate the packages with semiconductor devices in them. Usually it will be beta and gamma radiation that will have this ability; alpha particles will usually be stopped by outer packaging very easily. The common quality that is measured in Radiation is its ability to ionise materials. In semiconductors this ionising radiation can have two major effects: one is to produce electron-hole pairs which can create "soft" errors (errors in operation but not permanent damage) and, if the radiation is sufficient, permanent damage by creating large numbers of charges with sufficient energy to be injected into Silicon dioxide regions (where they stick) and change a transistors characteristics. Such high levels of radiation can also disrupt the crystal lattice and damage the transistors in that way. Normal semiconductor devices such as those in a typical computer would have sufficient soft errors at relatively low levels of radiation to render the computer unusable though not necessarily cause permanent damage. These levels are not generally sufficiently low that you would want to stand around in for long in it either! I suspect this is the sort of levels that we may be getting close to at the site in Japan at present. At the next level up where humans would be seriously harmed is similar to the point where normal semiconductors also get permanent damaged.

However, it is possible to make semiconductor devices that are very resilient to radiation - at least for a period of time. This involves different processing and careful design and, as a result, they are not cheap to make. Typically they will use a silicon-on-insulator process and complete computers can be made (and are made for military applications) that can withstand around 1 megarad, which would be lethal to a human. I don't know what levels were reached at Chernobyl but I would guess such semiconductors would have worked for some time there.

Chenobyl was as high as here, at least 10,000 times higher inside some reactor buildings.


 The problem would be that it would take some months (or years) to design and build a suitable "robot" from such a set of components (which may or may not be readiliy available).

I sounds like it's just and insulation issue computer componets can be concealed behind lead or depleated urainium shelding(It would make the robots heavier).

Would there be any impact on the ability of a controller, they would act under remote control radio waves and radioactivity could effect connectivity could'nt it?
 

Offline graham.d

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How does radiation effect the electronics of technology?
« Reply #3 on: 01/04/2011 08:45:11 »
Lead (or other heavy metal shielding) would help quite a bit if the weight problem could be overcome. If the radiation levels are high enough, and with sufficient energy, some will still penetrate. Radiation would not affect cabling significantly unless a very, very high level where it could cause the insulation to break down. Radio communications would not be disrupted.
 

Offline Geezer

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How does radiation effect the electronics of technology?
« Reply #4 on: 01/04/2011 09:11:42 »
Not to contradict any of Graham's points, but realize that radiation is all around us, it always has been, and just about everything is a source of radiation of one sort or another.

The semiconductor memory devices in your computer regularly drop bits of information due to radiation, but the systems that use these devices are designed to expect, and recover from, these errors. The human body is not so different.
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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How does radiation effect the electronics of technology?
« Reply #5 on: 01/04/2011 12:17:12 »
Not to contradict any of Graham's points, but realize that radiation is all around us, it always has been, and just about everything is a source of radiation of one sort or another.

 

Of course it's the type of radiation, that is the issue, not "radiation" per-say.
 

Offline graham.d

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How does radiation effect the electronics of technology?
« Reply #6 on: 01/04/2011 12:29:58 »
Geezer is right. Cosmic ray strikes do disrupt electronic devices on occasions and if a device is intended for high altitude use, and space operation in particular, it has to be made radiation hard to some extent and/or fault tolerant. This is usually to be able to tolerate "soft errors" I mentioned earlier. Sufficient radiation, that damages devices, cannot be countered by such means and a radiation hard device is required (and this may be required for long term satellite operation for example). The very rad-hard devices are primarily for defence usage.
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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How does radiation effect the electronics of technology?
« Reply #7 on: 01/04/2011 12:40:29 »
Geezer is right. Cosmic ray strikes do disrupt electronic devices on occasions and if a device is intended for high altitude use, and space operation in particular, it has to be made radiation hard to some extent and/or fault tolerant. This is usually to be able to tolerate "soft errors" I mentioned earlier. Sufficient radiation, that damages devices, cannot be countered by such means and a radiation hard device is required (and this may be required for long term satellite operation for example). The very rad-hard devices are primarily for defence usage.

Sounds like the protective technology a robot would need to fuction, already exists and is used for satalites.
 

Offline graham.d

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How does radiation effect the electronics of technology?
« Reply #8 on: 01/04/2011 13:06:41 »
Yes, the technology exists, but it takes time and money to invest in putting it altogether for a specific application. I guess nobody was planning on these nuclear incidents occurring.
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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How does radiation effect the electronics of technology?
« Reply #9 on: 01/04/2011 14:50:23 »
Yes, the technology exists, but it takes time and money to invest in putting it altogether for a specific application. I guess nobody was planning on these nuclear incidents occurring.

that's generally what causes problems to be bigger than they should be.

Still that is a plus, the technology is there it just needs to be adabted.
 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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How does radiation effect the electronics of technology?
« Reply #10 on: 18/04/2011 16:28:12 »
apparently they are using Robots at Fukushima
Russia Today
 

Offline saroy123

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How does radiation effect the electronics of technology?
« Reply #11 on: 13/09/2011 13:19:44 »
Of course it's the type of radiation, that is the issue, not "radiation" per-say.
 

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How does radiation effect the electronics of technology?
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