Completed EEE-Parts Projects (since 2000)
Current and Future EEE-Parts Projects
2010 - 2013
2011 - 2012
European Component Initiative (ECI)
DLR engages directly in the ECI-Program with the projects listed below. You will find an ECI-Program description at the ESCC-Homepage.
Preparation of Documents for the Procurement of Commercial Parts
Standards defining the requirements for the selection, control, and procurement of commercial EEE-parts for space applications do not yet exist. To ensure a consistent approach in European pace projects, a new document "General Requirements for the Use of Commercial EEE-Parts in Space Applications" was prepared in accordance with standard ECSS-Q-ST-60, adequately considering the specific concerns of commercial parts with regard to functionality, quality, reliability, availability, and cost. As the use of such parts is necessary due to cost and availability constraints, a French-German initiative was established to create this document that will be employed in the context of German, French, or European projects and may be incorporated into the ECSS system. In addition, a process was developed defining the selection criteria of commercial EEE-parts for their use in DLR projects. The appropriate documents concerning selection, risk analysis, and procurement plan have been issued, they are listed below.
Support of EEE-Parts Qualification Activities
In order to provide more effectiveness and closer collaboration with the German space industry, DLR decided on a cooperation with TESAT Spacecom (formerly BOSCH-Satcom) featuring substantial experience concerning EEE-parts procurement. The various TESAT experts from different parts categories optimize the support of the DLR parts activities. The task sharing provides for the TESAT Company especially being responsible for the technical implementation of qualifications and contacts to manufacturers and users, while DLR performs the executive function in the ESCC and the contact to the European Space Agency ESA. DLR is represented in the SCSB (Space Component Steering Board), the PSWG (Policy and Standards Working Group), the EPPL-TA (European Preferred Parts List ‑ Technical Authority), and the ESCC-Executive. The TESAT employees are members of the CTB (Component Technology Board) and are represented in various CTB working groups. SCSB, PSWG, and CTB are ESCC-system panels. The first project concerning parts qualification was processed from 2002 till 2007, the successive project period is running from 2007 till 2012.
Various Projects Improving the Availability of PowerMOSFETs
PowerMOSFETs are needed in almost ever space equipment; however, these parts are sensitive to radiation that they are exposed to in space orbit. Worldwide there is currently only one space qualified U.S. manufacturer of radiation hardened power MOSFETs. Apart from this monopoly position, the products are subject to the very stringent export regulations of the US State Department. Thus, the success of the European Space Industry depends on the U.S. supply. That is why Europe is trying since a long time to develop this technology on its own. Since several years, also DLR was carrying out development projects in this area, by now being able to present positive results.
Infineon, one of the important German semiconductor manufacturers in the world, delivers MOSFET power transistors for commercial applications with comparable electrical properties as they are needed in space equipment. The characteristics of these parts in space radiation environment were examined in a first project. The results have shown that the radiation tolerance of the available parts is not sufficient and that the manufacturing process and the part design must be modified to reach the radiation hardness required for space applications. In a subsequent project, basic analyses were performed with the objective to select the best technology at Infineon and to identify simple process modifications suitable for reaching the desired improvement in radiation hardness. For these analyses, the CoolMOS transistor was identified as the most promising part concerning radiation hardening measures. The results however showed that there is no unique procedure being able to reach the short-term objective of a radiation hardened MOSFET, which is based on the existing process line. In fact, the necessity of some fundamental changes to the commercial process was identified to get the required radiation hardness for the CoolMOS transistor.
A further project analyzed the suitable approaches for promising techniques identified. Among other things, the influence of the Gate Oxide thickness and the avoidance of high process temperatures during production and processing of the Gate Oxide were checked. In parallel, inspections on previous project test structures were performed in order to verify the efficiency of actions in detail and to obtain a better understanding of the controversial test results. The knowledge finally obtained led to the development of new test structures and a new mask-set for the manufacturing of modified CoolMOS transistors and allowed to optimize them in several sequent wafer-runs succeeding each other. These methods enabled a new production design and consequently its implementation. Thus, modified functioning CoolMOS transistors could be obtained by use of available processes. The actual manufacturing process resulted in components which showed the required low drift of the threshold voltage after radiation as well as the good electrical parameters of the commercial parts.
A new project is dealing with the further development of the CoolMOS transistors as components in standard space packages and the required ESCC-evaluation and qualification.
Due to the successfully completed pre-phases and the results achieved up to now, it is assumed that first Infineon Power MOSFETs for space applications will be available at the end of the year 2009.
Suitability Test of Commercial Parts for Space Use
In this project the procedures developed in the frame of the previous study "Development of a Systematic for the Application of EEE-Parts for Micro- or Mini-Satellites with Emphasis on Commercial Parts" were verified successfully by applying them on a selection of commercial parts.
PPH15- and PPH15x-Evaluation
In a previous project, the evaluation of the PPH15 manufacturing process for RF power transistors was performed according to the ESCC-evaluation procedures. This included the evaluation of the manufacturing process as well as definition and performance of the required tests. Furthermore the applicable production and test procedures were specified and fixed. Now the PPH15 process can be used and qualified in various space projects. PPH15 stands for Power PHEMT (Pseudomorphic High Electron Mobility Transistor), a semiconductor technology with 0.15 Micron Gate length. UMS, one of the leading European manufacturer of MESFET- and HEMT-Technologies, is located in Orsay, France, and Ulm, Germany. PPH15 represents a technical advancement of the PH15 and PH25 processes for more power. The ESCC-CTB (Component Technology Board) recommended funding on the technology by DLR.
PPH15x represents a further technical advancement of the PPH15-process with a RF power density exceeding 500 mW/mm for high linear KA-band space applications and operating voltages of 6 V. This semiconductor technology includes novel structures to be analyzed in the frame of the project with regard to lifetime and reliability. After a successful completion of the analysis, the PPH15X manufacturing process will be first internally qualified at UMS and subsequently in a second phase subjected to an ESCC-evaluation. These analyses and tests may be based on previous ESCC-evaluation results implementing a low-cost delta evaluation.
Preparation of Specifications for the Qualification of Hybrids
The ESCC-system does not yet offer any specification for the qualification of standard hybrid circuits. Standard hybrid circuits imply different electronic parts being united in one housing so that this circuit may be regarded as one part and may be qualified subsequently. In Germany, various manufacturers depend exactly on these hybrid specifications. At first, they were required for to the qualification of quartz oscillators produced by the German Company KVG. The project objective was substantially reached though the intended course of the project had to be modified several times due to the multiple discussions and differing opinions within PSWG. Thus, “just” a generic specification for oscillators could be approved instead of the originally planned generic hybrid specification.
Evaluation and Qualification of Thin Film Chip Resistors
Almost all space equipment needs resistors. Regarding the resistors currently used in space projects, just about 5 % are thin film resistors. This quota could be extended if qualified thin film resistors were available at approximately the same expenses of thick film resistors utilized today. Advantages of the thin film resistors are considerably better tolerance range and stability as well as a lower temperature coefficient compared to thick film resistors. Within this project, the manufacturer defrays the qualification expense on his own, however, being supported by DLR as a part of the ESCC-Executive.
Preparation of Specifications for the Qualification of an Assembly and Test House
Specifications for assembly and test houses do not yet exist in the ESCC-System. Since these specifications are needed for the evaluation and qualification of an assembly and test house, they were prepared in the context of a DLR-project. DLR has proposed these specifications into ESCC. With this early national availability of the specification and the qualification of a German Assembly and test house, the German industry gains a competitive advantage.
Development, Assembly, Manufacturing, and Evaluation of an LDO-Regulator in a suitable Package for Space Applications
Up to now, only one US-company manufactured radiation tolerant 2.5-V-Regulators for space applications. Apart from current quality problems, these components are subjected to the ITAR export restrictions. These regulators are needed to operate low voltage components (e.g. FPGAs) in higher voltage architecture. Producing the necessary supply voltage directly at the consumer load particularly induces energy saving. The future increase of 2.5-V components on the market indicates an increasing need of a 2.5-V regulator. In order to improve this situation, a DLR-project was conducted, in which commercially available components were assembled in a hermetically sealed housing followed by successful characterization and evaluation tests.
Investigations into the Suitability of Chinese EEE-Parts for Space Use and their Evaluation and Qualification
The availability of EEE-parts for space applications is strongly dependent on American manufacturers. This requires the urgent investigation of all alternatives concerning the delivery of EEE-parts and opening the market for new international part suppliers.
Since many years, China develops and manufactures parts for its own space projects, meanwhile being interested in commercializing these products abroad as well. The part quality is comparable to US-parts, particularly because the part evaluation is performed according to American standards being available in Chinese.
Cooperation with China in this field could establish an alternative source. Another advantage of cooperation with China is the expansion of the market for European parts manufacturers resulting in profitable efficiency, profitability, increasing production, and more attractive prices. The cooperation shall exclusively be limited to civilian areas. A know-how transfer to China will not occur, nor a violation of American export control rules. Both ESA and the Commission of European Community favor cooperation with China.
In the first project concerning this topic, a small selection of parts was investigated for suitability aspects as well as cooperation and delivery potential of the Chinese manufacturers. Based on the positive results of the first project, an evaluation and qualification of Chinese parts was initiated in a follow-up project. Major tasks here are: specification and test plan preparation, performing evaluation and qualification tests, manufacturer audits, support on implementing a certification system, manufacturing of qualification samples, performance of screening and qualification tests, result evaluation and parts approval.
Evaluation and Qualification of Shunt-Resistors
Currently, space-qualified shunts (current measurement resistors) were not available on the European parts market. However, the non-qualified, low-impedance precision resistors of the company Isabellenhütte were already used in space projects for years. In order to avoid complex and expensive project qualifications, the current measurement resistors have been qualified generally.
Radiation Characterization of Commercial PowerMOSFETs
For the improvement of MOSFET power transistors availability, a radiation characterization was performed under application-oriented dynamic operating conditions in contrast to the usually implemented static measurements. The results enable the use of alternative parts for space applications with reduced radiation requirements and short mission times.
Evaluation and Qualification of Quartzes and Oscillators
Almost every space project requires quartzes and oscillators. At present, worldwide just a very restricted choice of qualified suppliers ‑ most of them being resident in the USA and depending on the associated export restrictions ‑ is available for space approved FCPs (Frequency Controlled Products). In the context of this project, a qualification of quartzes and oscillators shall be performed by Company KVG Quartz Crystal Technology.
Evaluation and Qualification of Cables
Cables are used in many space projects, although they are not qualified. Therefore, complex and expensive project qualifications are necessary. To avoid future individual qualifications, the available product range of qualified cables shall be enlarged to guarantee a European source at competitive conditions. The product development is completed however; evaluation and qualification which are required for standard space applications still need to be performed. In this project, the manufacturer defrays the qualification expenses on his own being supported by DLR acting as a member of the ESCC-Executive.
Evaluation and Qualification of RF-Connectors
This project shall improve the components availability for the European space users in the area of high frequency connectors. The request for qualified RF-connectors arose from the German manufacturers for space equipment, since connectors are required in lot of space equipment. By using ESCC-qualified RHF-connectors, future projects can be performed more time- and cost-efficiently, because the current complex and costly RF-connector project qualification for each single project can be omitted. For the qualification of RF-connectors, only those companies could be considered, which are skilled in the essential technical know-how, meet the quality requirements and in addition have the required knowledge of requirements on parts for space use. Finally, the Rosenberger Company was selected for this project because of its advantageous provision of vertical integration and its independence of subcontractors as part of their manufacturing conditions.
Evaluation and Qualification of an Assembly and Test House
In fact, many semiconductor manufacturers are capable to deliver chips suitable for space applications, but have no intention or possibilities to perform the complex assembly of chips in space suitable packages and the required extensive qualification tests. In order to avoid parallel execution of this cost-intensive work in several companies, these processes shall be operated in an Assembly and Test House (ATH). ATH assumes the assembly of the chips into suitable housings, part screening, marketing and product responsibility.
After successful completion, the application area will be enlarged by a domain extension.
Development and Qualification of a CCGA (Ceramic Column Grid Array) Soldering Process
In an increasing volume, part manufacturers develop and provide – also supported by ESA ‑ highly complex parts in Column Grid Array (CGA) packages with high pin count. Especially for new processor types and FPGAs no alternative packages exist, e.g. Ceramic Quad Flatpacks (CQFPs) for which reliable soldering processes are established. Investigations have shown that currently no company exists in Germany featuring a qualified Ceramic CGA soldering process. To continue the development of competitive products for space use, this process implementation will be inevitable for the companies in the near future. Therefore, a suitable soldering and assembly process shall be developed for space use followed by determination of adequate qualification conditions. The soldering process shall meet the new reliability requirements for space use.
Evaluation and Qualification of an MMIC Local Oscillator
Regarding the availability of the required space parts, Europe is in a very critical situation and extensively dependent on the goodwill of the American government and its export restrictions. Currently, an oscillator similar to the Local Oscillator (LO) to be qualified, is available in the USA only.
Considering its characteristics, the new German part exceeds the American one as well. An application analysis ordered by ESA revealed the need for High Television Definition (HDTV) and interactive broad-band transmission with regard to the communication market. For the various required high-frequency satellites, lots of MMIC (Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit)-LOs are needed. Another ESA technology analysis showed that the requirements can be met best by highly integrated SiGe (Silicon Germanium)-MMICs. The envisaged subcontractor, IHP Corporation (Innovation for High Performance Microelectronics) in Frankfurt / Oder, holds this technology. The MMIC-LO development is close to be finished. Currently, an ESCC-qualification is envisaged in the planned project.
Development of a GaN 1000V Switching Transistor
Objective of this project is the development of process engineering and of transistor structures in Gallium-Nitride, as well as test sample manufacturing. Furthermore, the analysis of the assembly engineering in suitable packages will be preformed.
Evaluation and Qualification of Diodes and RF-Transistors
Inter alia, Infineon provides high-quality diodes and transistors of different types with outstanding characteristics being manufactured in the automotive and wireless area. Most of space equipment needs diodes and RF-Transistors. To assure the availability of these innovative parts produced by Infineon for of the European space market, an evaluation and ESCC-qualification will be performed in this project. After a successful qualification, these parts can be used in future space applications as they are and without any additional verification, thus leading to cost savings and reduction of time within projects.
Suitability Examination of a Commercial ASIC Technology regarding the Usability for Space Applications including a subsequent ESCC Capability Approval
The requirements not only for commercial usage but also for space qualified RF ASICs is increasing permanently. In return, the number of processes being used for manufacturing parts suitable for space applications is receding more and more. ATMEL’s cancellation of the 0.5 µm process (MG2RTP) exemplifies the discontinue of such a process. Due to the special requirements for space application, the high investment plus the exiguous market volume, these processes leading to radiation tolerant parts are not profitable to many manufacturers. Consequently, there is a need of alternative sources for space suitable parts.
This project provides the utilization of commercial processes comprising a certain radiation hardness. Based on preliminary investigations of TESAT, LFoundry in Landshut (Germany) apparently emerges as a suitable semiconductor manufacturer. During the first phase of this project, the level of space suitability should be determined by means of applicable test circuits. In case of positive results, the Capability Approval according to the ESCC-System Specifications is supposed to be performed in a second phase. The project objective is to provide a semiconductor production for European space applications domiciled in Germany.
Evaluation and Qualification of RF-Circulators / Isolators
The "User Platform" of the German space equipment manufacturers requested space qualified circulators and isolators respectively, because these parts are necessary for the manufacturing of numerous space equipment and currently, there are no qualified manufacturers of RF-circulators / isolators available. Therefore, an ESCC-qualification for circulators and isolators respectively shall be performed in this project. Future space projects could then be realized more time- and cost-efficiently because extensive qualifications for those parts and for every single project would be not necessary.
Development, Evaluation, and Qualification of SiC High Voltage Diodes
Power electronics application in space technology requires rugged and temperature-resistant parts. In this connection, conventional Silicon (Si) power semiconductors physically max out more and more, as higher depletion layer temperatures affect the semiconductor behaviour and may lead to dramatically increasing losses up to part destruction.
In order to provide for safe and efficient power electronic solutions even at higher temperatures, semiconductor materials with larger bandgap such as silicon carbide (SiC) are applied by now. SiC offers excellent material properties and facilitates power semiconductors with very good dynamic properties even for higher depletion layer temperatures. However, realization of the established Si semiconductor structures in this new material is limited. This impedes the acquisition and development of appropriate SiC diodes for specific space applications.
Purpose of this project is the evaluation / qualification of a silicon carbide high-voltage diode (~ 1500 V) in accordance with well established specifications, which includes the chip supply and housing development. The fast-switching SiC HV diode are supposed to be used for space applications.
Evaluation and Qualification of DC / DC-Converters
In the course of another DLR-project, a DC / DC-converter was developed in order to reduce the dependence of the USA also existing here. The project is nearly finished. After having completed the development, an ESCC-evaluation and qualification of the component is planned, so that the part can be used generally.