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Radiation-immune and repairable chips to fabricate durable electronics

To operate safely and reliably in outdoor environments, electronic devices should be resistant to a wide variety of external factors, including radiation. In fact, high-energy radiation can damage several components of field-effect transistors (FETs) commonly used to make electronics, including their superconducting channel, gate oxide and the insulating materials surrounding it (e.g., isolation or substrate oxides).

For several years, research teams worldwide have thus been trying to devise strategies that could make transistors more resistant to radiation. So far, however, this has proved to be highly challenging, and only a few of the techniques proposed in the past have achieved promising results.

Researchers at Peking University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Shanghai Tech University have recently fabricated a radiation-hardened and repairable integrated circuit (IC) based on carbon nanotube transistors with ion gel gates. This IC, first presented in a paper pre-published in Nature Electronics, could be used to build new electronic devices that are more resistant to high-energy radiation.

"Our work aimed to realize a kind of radiation-immune IC," Zhiyong Zhang, one of the researchers who carried out the study, told TechXplore. "In addition to general-purpose chips, the requirements on radiation-hardened electrical devices and integrated circuits are growing fast due to the rapid developments in the space exploration and nuclear energy industries."

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