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Journal of the Korean Physical Society, Vol. 59, No. 2, August 2011, pp.

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Estimates of SEU for Semiconductors Using MC50 Cyclotron and GEANT4


Simulation
J. W. Shin
Department of Physics, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon 440-746, Korea

T. -S. Park and S. W. Hong


Department of Physics and Department of Energy Science,
Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon 440-746, Korea

J. K. Park and J. T. Kim


School of Information and Communication Engineering,
Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon 440-746, Korea

J. -S. Chai
Department of Energy Science and School of Information and Communication Engineering,
Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon 440-746, Korea
(Received 26 April 2010)
The Single Event Upset (SEU) on semiconductor RAM memories due to terrestrial neutrons is
measured by using the MC50 Cyclotron at KIRAMS. Proton beams impinging on a thick Be target
produce neutrons, which then bombard the semiconductors to cause SEU. Due to the thickness of
the Be target used in this experiment, the neutron beam has a broad energy spectrum. Thus, the
SEU could not be obtained directly as a function of neutron energies. To solve this problem, we
propose an approximate method of estimating the SEU as a function of the neutron energy when
the neutron beams have a broad range of energy. In this work, three different energies of proton
beams of 30, 35, and 40 MeV were used. By extracting the difference of the neutron yields at these
energies, we can make a rough estimate of SEU as a function of neutron energies. Monte Carlo
simulations are performed to obtain the neutron flux from the MC50 cyclotron. Our results for the
SEU turn out to be comparable to the previous results.
PACS numbers: 61.80.Hg, 29.20.Hm
Keywords: SEU, MC-50, Neutron, Monte Carlo simulation, GEANT4
DOI: 10.3938/jkps.59.2022

I. INTRODUCTION
Random access memories (RAMs) are sensitive to
high-energy particles such as energetic neutrons in the
atmosphere. The excessive charges generated by high
energy particles incident on reverse-biased PN junctions
can induce an instant current flow which may disrupt
normal system function [1]. This single-event effect
(SEE) can change the content of the memory elements,
which is called Single Event Upset (SEU). In our previous work, we proposed an approximate subtraction
method to take into account the non-mono energetic
nature of the neutron beam from MC-50 cyclotron at
KIRAMS (Korea Institute of Radiological Medical Sciences) [2], where we calculated neutron spectra with
GEANT4 (v.9.1) with G4binary cascade model and ob E-mail:

swhong@skku.ac.kr

tained good results. In this work, we further develop


our approach by first confirming our previous results in
Ref. 2 with an updated version of GEANT4 (v.9.3) and
by checking the dependency of the results with three
different models; Binary Cascade, Bertini Cascade and
LEProtonInelastic models.
II. METHOD
1. SEU cross section

The SEU cross section SEU is defined as


SEU (E) =

1
dNSEU (E)

Nbits dF Ln (E)

(1)

where NSEU (E) denotes the number of SEUs, Nbits the


number of total memory bits, and FLn (E) the neutron
fluence for a given testing time in units of n/cm2 .

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Estimates of SEU for Semiconductors Using MC50 Cyclotron and GEANT4 Simulation J. W. Shin et al.

Fig. 1. (Color online) The exterior view of the neutron


production target area of MC50 cyclotron.

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in C++ language, which enables the simulation of propagation of particles that interact with materials and/or
other particles. It is widely used in many different fields
such as high energy and nuclear physics [4-5], medical
physics [6-7] and space science [7-8].
A simulation of the electromagnetic processes is well
standardized, since the underlying theories (i.e., Classical and Quantum Electrodynamics) are well established.
On the contrary, there is a huge diversity for the hadronic
processes, depending on the particles under consideration and on their energies. To accommodate this diversity, many packages (or physics models) are builtin in GEANT4. Users should then invoke the relevant
physics models suitable for the process [9-10], which we
will briefly discuss in the next subsection. In this work,
GEANT4 9.3 version is used.
4. Hadronic Models in GEANT4

Fig. 2. (Color online) Schematic drawing of the neutron


production target area including collimators.
2. Neutron production target of MC-50

Figures 1 and 2 show the target area for producing


neutron beams of the MC-50 cyclotron. The MC-50 cyclotron can provide neutron beams up to 40 MeV generated by the proton beams impinging on the Beryllium
target. The MC-50 cyclotron uses a thick Be target of
10.5 mm in thickness. Due to the thickness of the target, the produced neutrons do not have a narrow peak in
energy but have a broad energy spectrum from 0 to the
incident proton energy. Thus from these neutron beams
we cannot extract the SEU cross section as a function of
the neutron energy. In Ref. 2 we proposed an approximate method of extracting the SEU cross section when
neutrons are produced with a broad energy spectrum by
a thick target. The detailed approximation procedure
can be found in Ref. 2.
To extract the SEU cross section of Eq. (1) one needs
to know the neutron flux that causes the SEU. However,
the experimental data of the neutron beam spectrum for
the present experimental set-up are not available. Thus
we perform GEANT4 Monte Carlo simulation to extract
the neutron beam profile by using the geometry shown
in Fig. 1.
3. GEANT4

GEANT4 (GEometry ANd Tracking 4) [3] is an


object-oriented Monte Carlo simulation toolkit written

In GEANT4, users must choose a proper process for


simulations. In this work we choose three different
hadronic models: Binary Cascade, Bertini Cascade and
LEProtonInelastic.
GEANT4 Binary Cascade is a data driven intranuclear cascade model propagating primary and secondary particles in a nucleus. This model generates the
final state for hadron inelastic scattering by simulating
the intra-nuclear cascade. The target nucleus is modeled
by a 3-D collection of nucleons, as opposed to a smooth
nuclear medium.
The Bertini model also generates the final state for
hadron inelastic scattering by simulating the intranuclear cascade. The final state of each collision is sampled according to free-particle cross section data. The
target nucleus is treated as an average nuclear medium
to which excitons (particle-hole states) are added after
each collision.
LEProtonInelastic model generates the final state for
proton inelastic scattering. It is one of the LEP models
derived from the low energy part of GEISHA [11], which
is parametrisation driven model.
In this work, we used these hadronic models to compare the prediction capabilities of the proton-induced
neutron spallation process.
III. RESULTS
1. Neutron energy spectra

Neutron energy spectra produced by protons of 2 A


from MC-50 cyclotron are calculated with GEANT4 and
are plotted in Fig. 3. Three different hadronic models
are used. In order to obtain the whole neutron spectra, neutron tracking cut was not used. Figure 3 shows
dF Ln /dEn which is the number of neutrons per cm2 as
a function of neutron energy. The dF Ln /dEn is plotted
for three different hadronic models for three incident proton energies. Ep and En denote the incident proton and

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Journal of the Korean Physical Society, Vol. 59, No. 2, August 2011
Table 1. SEU cross sections ( 1014 ) [cm2 /bit].
6

10

= 30 MeV

G4LE

( n / cm / MeV )

G4Binary

10

En

G4Berti
6

10

= 35 MeV

Previous
results [2]

= 40 MeV

32.5

1.83 0.72
1.99 0.81
1.51 0.79

1.79 0.88

37.5

2.77 1.12
2.84 1.17
2.62 1.15

2.48 1.20

32.5

3.97 0.59
4.24 0.79
3.50 0.69

4.00 0.76

37.5

4.88 0.91
5.01 0.95
4.50 0.82

4.35 1.03

(MeV)

10

10

10

dFL /dE

G4LE
G4Binary
G4Bertini

10

SRAM0

10

10

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

(MeV)

Fig. 3. (Color online) Neutron energy spectra produced by


2 A protons of MC-50 cyclotron are simulated for Ep = 30,
35 and 40 MeV.

x 10

difference spectrum

(a)

SRAM1

G4LE

G4Binary
G4Berti

0
9

(b)

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

(MeV)

Fig. 4.
(Color online) Difference spectra between two neutron fluencies are plotted.
(a) represents the difference spectra of (dF Ln /dEn )Ep = 35 MeV (dF Ln /dEn )Ep = 30 MeV and (b) represents the difference
spectra of (dF Ln /dEn )Ep = 40 MeV - (dF Ln /dEn )Ep = 35 MeV .

the produced neutron energies, respectively. For neutron


energies higher than about 10 MeV the neutron spectra
obtained from three different models are more or less the
same. However, at neutron energies below 1 MeV, the
LEProtonInelastic (LE) model predicted more yields
than the other two models. On the contrary, neutron
fluences calculated by three different models are almost
the same near the maximum neutron energies. In Eq.
(1) the SEU is defined as a function of neutron energy.
Therefore, to obtain the experimental values of SEU, one
needs the neutron beams in mono energetic form. However, the MC-50 cyclotron produces the neutrons of a
broad range of energy as shown in Fig. 3. With these
broad energy spectra, it is impossible to obtain the SEU
as a function of En . Thus we propose a new method to
extract the SEU.
2. Subtraction method

In Ref. 2 we showed that two neutron spectra


dF Ln /dEn with broad energy distributions could be subtracted from each other to extract a virtual quasi-mono
energetic neutron beam. Figure 4 represents the differ-

ence spectrum between two neutron fluences from two incident proton energies. In our analysis, neutrons having
the energy lower than 1 MeV are excluded, because low
energy neutrons cause little contribution to SEU cross
sections [12]. By subtracting (dF Ln /dEn )Ep = 30 MeV
from (dF Ln /dEn )Ep = 35 MeV we obtain the spectrum in
Fig. 4(a) which looks similar to the quasi-mono energetic
spectrum at En = 32.5 MeV with a width of 5 MeV. The
same can be done at 35 < En < 40 MeV to get the spectrum in Fig. 4(b). We may take Fig. 4 (a) as a virtual
quasi-mono energetic neutron beam at En = 32.5 MeV.
Similarly Fig. 4 (b) can be taken as a virtual quasi-mono
energetic neutron beam at En = 37.5 MeV. Figure 4 also
shows that the difference spectra from different hadronic
models are more or less the same.
3. SEU cross section

In Figs. 5 and 6 we compare our resultant SEU cross


sections from KIRAMS MC-50 with those from TSL
[12] for SRAM0 (CY62127BVLL-70BAI) and SRAM1
(CY62157CV25LL-70BAI), respectively. TSL and TSL
(Raw) represent the SEU cross section with the full neutron spectrum and the SEU cross section with only the
peak of neutron spectrum, respectively. Our SEU cross
sections for En = 32.5 and 37.5 MeV denoted by the
open circles, triangles, squares and diamonds agree well
with TSL results. We listed in Table 1 the SEU cross
sections from the present work and the previous work
[2], which agree with each other well. (Note that the
values listed in Table 1 as the previous results are somewhat different from those in Table 1 of Ref. 2. It is
because in Ref. 2, neutrons with the energy lower than
10 MeV are excluded in calculating the SEU cross sections, whereas in this work neutrons with the energy
lower than 1 MeV are excluded.) The differences among
the results using three hadronic models are too small to
be seen, and so the open symbols almost overlap with
each other. The results show that our approximate sub-

Estimates of SEU for Semiconductors Using MC50 Cyclotron and GEANT4 Simulation J. W. Shin et al.

-13

SEU cross section (SRAM0)

(cm /bit)

10

-14

SEU

10

TSL
TSL (Raw)
KIRAMS with G4LE
KIRAMS with G4Binary
KIRAMS with G4Berti

10

KIRAMS with G4Binary (previous results)

-15

20

40

60

80

100

120

140

160

180

200

(MeV)

Fig. 5. (Color online) SEU cross sections for SRAM0 device. The filled circles and triangles represent TSL (with the
full neutron spectrum) and TSL (Raw) (with only the peak
of neutron spectrum) results, respectively [12]. The open
squares, circles and triangles represent KIRAMS results with
LE, Binary and Bertini models, respectively. The open diamonds denote our previous results [2].

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SEU cross section (SRAM1)

(cm /bit)

10

10

GEANT4 version 9.1 (our previous results) and 9.3 (the


present work) are not significant. We find that our results agree with the TSL experimental results within a
factor of about 2. When experimental or evaluated data
are available with sufficient coverage, data driven models are most optimal. However, in the energy ranges we
considered, except for the neutron energies below 1 MeV,
the LEProtonInelastic, Binary Cascade and Bertini Cascade models can be used with a reasonable accuracy for
the simulation of neutron production. At energies below
1 MeV, the results from the LEProtonInelastic model
which is a parameterization driven model significantly
deviate from those from Binary model which is a data
driven model.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This work was supported in part by the WCU program (R31-2008-10029) and by National Nuclear R&D
Program (No. 2011-0006347) and (No. 2011-0006294)
through the National Research Foundation of Korea
(NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and
Technology.
REFERENCES

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SEU

TSL
TSL (Raw)
KIRAMS with G4LE
KIRAMS with G4Binary
KIRAMS with G4Berti

10

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KIRAMS with G4Binary (previous results)

-15

20

40

60

80

100

120

140

160

180

200

(MeV)

Fig. 6. (Color online) SEU cross sections for SRAM1 device. The filled circles and triangles represent TSL (with the
full neutron spectrum) and TSL (Raw) (with only the peak
of neutron spectrum) results, respectively [12]. The open
squares, circles and triangles represent KIRAMS results with
LE, Binary and Bertini models, respectively. The open diamonds denote our previous results [2].

traction method can be used with a reasonable accuracy


to obtain SEU cross sections when the neutron beams
have a broad spectrum.
IV. SUMMARY
An approximate method of estimating neutron SEU
cross section is applied to the neutron beams of broad energy spectra produced by MC-50 cyclotron. Three different hadronic models are used to estimate the neutron fluence, but differences among the three different hadronic
models are not significant. Also the difference between

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