Singapore, 27 October 2020 – A smart chip capable of protecting satellites from radiation damage could enable future satellites to carry more sophisticated equipment and yet will be less costly to build, thanks to an innovation developed by researchers at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.
Built by a team led by Professor Joseph Chang from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, the NTU-developed smart chip can detect incoming heavy-ion radiation with the potential to cause serious damage to electronics.
When the effects of radiation (known as a Single Event Latchup) are detected, the smart chip shuts down other electronics in the satellite safely and turns them back on once the danger has passed. The chip itself is hardened and protected against heavy-ion radiation and can stay ‘awake’ throughout the event.
Known as the Latchup Detection and Protection (LDAP) chip, it is now commercialised by Zero-Error Systems (ZES), a start-up incubated by NTUitive, NTU’s innovation and enterprise company. The technology for the LDAP has recently been awarded two patents and has been verified under heavy-ion tests in a cyclotron, a type of particle accelerator that generates radiation particles.
The chip has been installed as part of the radiation-protection circuitry in three pico-satellites built by the Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan, for Japan, Paraguay and the Philippines, and is expected to be launched into space in 2021.
Dr Alex Lin, Interim CEO of NTUitive, said, “We are heartened to be a part of ZES’ journey in building this critical component for future space-faring instruments and vessels. What ZES did will contribute significantly to our ability to explore space as the next frontier.”
ZES also announced that it has successfully raised S$2.5 million in seed funding, comprising investments from Airbus Ventures, SEEDS Capital, Silicon Solution Ventures, NTU’s Strategic Research Innovation Fund, private investors and ZES founders.
Dr Tang Pen San, Co-founder and Managing Director of ZES, said the new funding will enable the start-up to quickly scale up its operations and to work with international customers to deploy their portfolio of products into space and other applications, including self-driving vehicles with high levels of autonomy.
– Construction+ Online