Radiation Damage in CMOS Image Sensors for Space Applications

Rushton, Joseph Edward (2018). Radiation Damage in CMOS Image Sensors for Space Applications. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000cf0d


The space radiation environment is damaging to silicon devices, such as Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors, affecting their performance over time or causing total failure.

The first part of this work investigates a Charge Coupled Device (CCD) style CMOS image sensor designed for TDI (Time Delay and Integration) mode imaging, a mode commonly used for Earth observation. Damage from high energy protons in the space environment decreases the Charge Transfer Efficiency (CTE) and increases the dark current of such devices. Experimental work on proton damaged devices is presented, showing the effects on CTE and dark current. The results are compared to a standard CCD by a simulation to take into account the different dimensions and operating conditions of the two devices.

The second part of this work describes an experimental campaign to determine the effects of process variations (namely the introduction of deep doping wells and the variation of epitaxial silicon thickness) on the rate of Single Event Latchup (SEL) in CMOS Active Pixel Sensor (APS) devices. SEL is a potentially destructive phenomenon which occurs in CMOS technology but not in CCDs. Test devices were subjected to heavy ion bombardement and SEL rates recorded for a range of heavy ions causing varying amounts of ionisation. A simulation using Technology Computer Aided Design (TCAD) was developed to predict the SEL rates due to heavy ions and to understand the characteristic shape of the SEL cross section vs. Linear Energy Transfer (LET) curves produced by SEL experiments. The simuation was carried out for structures representative of each of the design variants.

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