Radiation Tolerant Power Converter Design for Space Applications

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Addis Ababa University


Radiation and extreme temperature are the main inhibitors for the use of electronic devices in space applications. Radiation challenges the normal and stable operation of power converters, used as power supply for onboard systems in satellites and spacecrafts. In this circumstance, special design approaches known as radiation hardening or radiation tolerant designs are employed. FPGAs are beneficial for developing low-cost, high-speed embedded digital controllers for power converters, but their components are highly susceptible to radiation-induced faults. In safety and mission-critical systems, like space systems, radiation-induced faults are a major concern. Majority of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) FPGAs are not developed to function in high radiation environments, with the exception of a handful of circuits that are radiation–hardened at the manufacturing process level at a very high cost overhead, making them less appealing from a performance and economic standpoint. Design-based techniques are another option for reaching the necessary level of reliability in a system design. This work investigates and designs a novel FPGA-based radiation-tolerant digital controller for DC-DC converters, with applications in space. The controller's radiation-induced failure modes were analyzed in order to develop a mitigation strategy, which included identifying the error modes and determining how existing mitigation approaches could be improved. For FPGA implementation and optimization of the radiation tolerant digital controller, a model-based design approach is presented. To validate the recommended solution strategies, fault injection campaigns are employed.