Space-Qualified Programmable Integrated Current LimiterApril 29, 2020 by Paul Shepard
STMicroelectronics has created an innovative radiation-hardened (rad-hard), programmable integrated current limiter (ICL) that prevents power surges and overloads from damaging electronic equipment operated in space.
Based on an original concept from the European Space Agency (ESA) to harmonize and miniaturize functionalities present in all satellites, ST has developed the new chip, the RHRPMICL1A, with the support of ESA and the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the French space agency. The device can be widely used worldwide to provide a cost effective, standardized, and configurable solution for the power management of space applications.
The RHRPMICL1A integrates the functions of a latch-up current limiter and solid-state power switch (SSP) that, until now, have been built using discrete components. Not only easing design and cutting the bill of materials (BOM), the fully integrated solution saves weight and up to 93% of board space. Hardware designers can reduce the typical protection-circuit footprint from 20cm x 20cm to 5cm x 5cm.
The RHRPMICL1 is QML-V space-agency qualified (5962R17211) with radiation hardness assurance (RHA) up to 100kRad total ionization dose (TID) and 78MeV in single event latch-up (SEL).
The device is configurable to address multiple applications, acting as a slave to provide simple latched protection, or in autonomous mode capable of automatic self recovery, or with foldback limiting to maintain a safe current in all conditions including short-circuit. Telemetry and telecommand pins, typically connected directly to the spacecraft on-board computer, permit easy control. To allow flexibility for circuit designers, the load is managed through an external P-channel MOSFET.
Compatible with all bus voltages, including 28V, 50V, and 100V commonly used in space applications, the RHRPMICL1A has a floating-ground configuration and Zener diode that allow flexibility to handle higher bus voltages in the future, as well as protecting the load in the event of internal failure.
The RHRPMICL1A is the third QML-V qualified rad-hard product ST has designed using the Company’s proprietary BCD6s SOI technology for power ICs. The project demonstrates again the capability to deliver high-end rad-hard power products to space designers. It is in production now, in a hermetic 20-pin flat ceramic package.
Engineering and evaluation models, flight-ready gold-finish or solder-dip devices, and demonstration boards for operation in triggerable (EVAL-RHICL1ATV1), latched (EVAL-RHICL1ALV1), and foldback (EVAL-RHICL1AFV1) modes, with user guides available.