Space-Qualified Programmable Integrated Current Limiter

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  • Radiation-hardened ICL chip by STMicroelectronics prevents power surges and overloads from damaging electronic equipment operated in space
  • Eases design and cuts the bill of materials (BOM). Also saves weight and up to 93 per cent of board space

Based on the original concept from the European Space Agency (ESA) to coordinate and miniaturize the functionalities present in all satellites, STMicroelectronics has developed an innovative radiation-hardened (rad-hard), programmable integrated current limiter (ICL) chip, the RHRPMICL1A, to prevent power surges and overloads from damaging electronic equipment operated in space. The device can be widely used worldwide to provide a cost-effective, standardized and configurable solution for the power management of space applications.

Integrated and configurable functionalities

The chip integrates the functions of a latch-up current limiter and solid-state power switch (SSP). Not only does it bring ease in design and cuts the bill of materials (BOM), it also saves weight and up to 93 per cent of board space.

The device is configurable for addressing multiple applications: acting as a slave to provide simple latched protection, autonomous mode capable of automatic self-recovery or 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.

Excellent compatibility

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).

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 allows flexibility to handle higher bus voltages, as well as protect the load in the event of internal failure.

The RHRPMICL1A is the third QML-V qualified rad-hard product that ST has designed using its 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 now available in a footprint from 20cm x 20cm to 5cm x 5cm 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 are also available.

The product has been developed with the support of ESA and the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the French space agency.


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