To study effects of radiation on computer memory devices
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (June 17, 2015) — The University of Louisville has been awarded a $1.05 million grant from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a branch of the U.S. Department of Defense, to conduct a three-year study on the effects of radiation on computer memory devices.
Standard computer memory devices can be damaged by radiation exposure—a huge problem in the event of a dirty bomb attack or nuclear power plant accident.
Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), which combine electrical and mechanical elements on a silicon microchip that measures less than the width of a human hair, are thought to be more impervious to radiation damage. This will be the first careful study on the devices.
UofL built the MEMS devices for the study in its Micro/Nano Technology Center and characterized them at the Speed School. The devices are being exposed to radiation at Vanderbilt’s Institute for Space and Defense Electronics and will be returned to UofL for follow-up studies.
Speed School professor Bruce Alphenaar, chairman of the electrical and computer engineering department, is principal investigator on the project. Kevin Walsh, Samuel T. Fife Endowed Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the founding director of the Micro/Nano Technology Center, and Shamus McNamara, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, are co-principal investigators.