Type of action: Coordination and Support
Topic: H2020-WIDESPREAD-2018-2020

Enhancement of Scientific Excellence and Innovation Potential in Electronic Instrumentation for Ionizing Radiation Environments


About Elicsir

Participant number Participant organization name Participant organization short name Country
1 (Coordinator) Faculty of Electronic Engineering, University of Niš EF-UNINIS Serbia
2 Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork TYN Ireland
3 IHP GmbH Institute for High Performance Microelectronics IHP Germany
4 University of Granada UGR Spain

Ionizing radiation can be encountered as natural (background) radiation originating from cosmic rays or naturally occurring radionuclides, or as radiation emitted by man-made sources. Ionizing radiation has found numerous applications in industry, medicine and research.

Ionising radioation Elicsir

Monitoring of ionizing radiation exposure is accomplished with radiation dosimeters, composed of radiation sensors (detectors) and signal processing electronics. Semiconductor devices (e.g. MOS transistors and various types of diodes) are increasingly used as sensor elements, as active (electronic) dosimeters are becoming more popular and are replacing their traditional passive counterparts. Operating principle of electronic dosimeters relies on measurement of the change of electrical properties of the sensing elements due to radiation. This field of research has a significant and growing commercial potential, as shown in table:

Product Value 2015 [USD million] Value 2022 [USD million]
Personal dosimeters 915.8 1,347.8
Area process monitors 368.4 520.2
Environmental radiation monitors 198.1 274.0
Surface contamination monitors 158.6 213.5
Radioactive material monitors 124.6 138.7
Total value 1,765.5 2,494.1

With the technological downscaling, the radiation-induced effects are becoming a major threat to the reliable operation of electronic devices, circuits and systems not only in radiation environment but also for mainstream terrestrial applications. Although it has traditionally been a major issue only for space electronics, it is nowadays well established that the ionizing radiation may severely affect the electronic equipment at terrestrial level (e.g. electronics in automotive applications or medical devices, such as pacemaker, may be affected by atmospheric particle radiation). For that reason, the design of electronic instrumentation for radiation environments also for safety critical terrestrial applications requires efficient radiation hardening measures.

Electronic instrumentation for ionizing radiation environments (including also electronics used as an integral part of dosimeters, i.e. read-out circuitry) is generally composed of sensing, data processing, communication, storage and visualization modules, and can be implemented as standalone or distributed. As the functionality and specifications of a particular radiation monitoring system depend on the specific application, and due to different effects caused by different types of radiation, the design of electronic instrumentation for ionizing radiation environments requires a synergy of multiple research disciplines such as Physics, Electronics, Microelectronics, and Software Engineering.

The investigation of ionizing radiation effects in semiconductor devices is the main research activity of the radiation research group from the Faculty of Electronic Engineering, University of Nis, Serbia. The Faculty of Electronic Engineering has built its expertise in relation to ionizing radiation effects through the national projects and a single FP7 project. However, mainly due to limited funding opportunities, it has been difficult to keep pace with the state-of-the art research in this area. In order to enhance the scientific expertise and networking capacity of the Faculty of Electronic Engineering in the characterization of ionizing radiation effects, we propose a three-year project to be run by a consortium involving the Faculty of Electronic Engineering (EF-UNINIS) from Serbia, and three European institutions with broad experience in radiation effects research - Tyndall National Institute (TYN) from Ireland, IHP GmbH (IHP) from Germany, and University of Granada (UGR) from Spain.

The EU partners involved in ELICSIR consortium will provide complementary expertise covering multiple research topics related to radiation effects relevant for electronics instrumentation, from modelling and simulation of radiation-matter interaction to design of customized systems for application in different radiation environments. In addition, the EU partners possess complementary experience in relation to exploitation of radiation research results in a wide range of applications in medicine, industry, and space research. This experience and know-how will be transferred to the EF-UNINIS researchers through a coherent and comprehensive set of project actions.

In the proposed ELICSIR project, we intend to employ a unique multi-scale approach based on the combination of the expertise related to radiation dosimetry and the expertise related to rad-hard design. We envisage that such approach will contribute to the significant and sustainable enhancement of the scientific excellence and innovation capacity of EF-UNINIS. While the project is certainly focused on EF-UNINIS, the three supporting partners will also benefit from increased research interactions in the project and enhanced visibility through dissemination actions.

Based on the SWOT analysis and expected impacts of the WIDESPREAD-03-2018, the specific objectives of ELICSIR project have been defined as follows:

  1. To enhance the scientific and innovation capacity of EF-UNINIS and improve the researcher profiles of all project partners. The research capacity of the EF-UNINIS in the field of characterization of ionizing radiation effects in electronic devices, circuits and systems will be significantly improved through the scientific training programs conducted in cooperation with partner institutions. The training activities will be organized to provide the knowledge transfer that will enable the research staff from EF-UNINIS to perform multi-scale characterization of ionizing radiation effects through modelling and simulation, as well as through applied experimental research. The complementary research profiles of the involved partners will be exploited to provide the expertise transfer on radiation effects research from the perspective of dosimetry and from the aspect of radiation tolerant design. Along with scientific training, the EF-UNINIS researchers will be trained on essential transferable skills. Particular emphasis will be placed on training on commercialization of research results, including innovation management. Finally, a special attention will be given to early stage researchers.

  2. To increase overall visibility and networking capacity of EF-UNINIS. The project results and the scientific aspects of the radiation research will be promoted among the wide scientific community through publications in peer-reviewed journals and participation at renowned international and national conferences, but also through networking with related projects and research centres, leveraging on established extensive supporting partners’ networks. This will facilitate the involvement of EF-UNINIS into future European research projects.

  3. To establish conditions and joint strategy for sustainable long-term collaboration. Collaboration through the ELICSIR project will result in establishment of stronger relations between the involved partners to facilitate joint after-the-project cooperation through bilateral as well as EU-funded projects. It is planned to increase the number of bilateral projects between the ELICSIR partners, and also to work closely on pursuing future joint EU-funded projects. A detailed plan for joint scientific activities after the project will be established, and required conditions for conducting advanced research at EF-UNINIS will be set. In addition, a strategic plan for joint design of a novel radiation dosimeter and its commercialization will be defined. Along with that, we aim to establish stronger cooperation with a wide range of local and regional communities involved in radiation research and radiation applications, primarily with relevant government, medical and industrial/business institutions. To foster multidisciplinary research and applications of ionizing radiation, a plan for establishing collaboration with medical and industrial sector will be defined.

  4. To promote the significance of the EU-sponsored research among the target groups. The project will be promoted among the high school and university students in order to attract their interest for studies related to disciplines related to the project. In addition, the communication with the stakeholders (policy makers, regulatory bodies, medical personnel, industry community) and general public will be established to attract their interest in the research and its exploitation, as well as to promote positive effects of the EU programmes at local and national level.

  5. To improve the educational potential of EF-UNINIS and promote the mobility and inclusion of early stage researchers in research and networking activities. The project results and state-of-the-art achievements in the field of ionizing radiation research will be used to upgrade the curricula at Master and PhD levels at EF-UNINIS. A detailed plan will be established for implementing new courses and an updated literature database will be established. In addition, inclusion of MSc and PhD students in all project activities will increase their knowledge, acting as educational/training platforms.

Expected impacts

The ELICSIR project is aimed at achieving significant improvement of the scientific, networking and educational capacity of the EF-UNINIS in the field of modelling, simulation, and characterization of ionizing radiation effects in electronic devices, circuits and systems. This will be accomplished through linking with the three established, research intensive EU counterparts (TYN, IHP, and UGR) which have complementary scientific profiles and expertise in relation to ionizing radiation research. Moreover, the project will facilitate the knowledge transfer among local and regional scientists and professionals, as well as the interaction with the target public groups, aiming to strengthen the overall research and innovation potential of the region in relation to study of ionizing radiation effects and implementation of ionizing radiation related technologies. As some project activities are closely related to commercialization of research results, it is envisaged that the project will result in increased commercial engagement of EF-UNINIS in the area of characterization of radiation dosimeters. In addition, the project activities will be focused on establishing the conditions for a long-term sustainable research at EF-UNINIS.

Specifically, the expected impacts are:

  1. Enhanced research capacity: The researchers from EF-UNINIS will gain significant knowledge with respect to characterization of ionizing radiation effects through a set of coherent training activities. By exploiting the complementary expertise of the involved partners, the researchers from EF-UNINIS will be trained for performing the characterization of radiation effects in experimental conditions, as well as for performing research through modelling and simulation of electrical response to radiation exposure. This knowledge will be essential for future research of ionizing radiation effects from two main perspectives: (1) study of ionizing radiation dosimeters, and (2) study of radiation effects on reliability of electronic devices, circuits and systems, and application of appropriate hardening strategies. In addition to the enhancement of the research capacity of EF-UNINIS, proposed collaboration will enhance the research expertise of TYN, IHP and UGR, enabling further increase of their competitiveness within European research community.

  2. Increased scientific visibility and networking capacity: The project will help in increasing the visibility of the EF-UNINIS as a research institution through participation at a series of international and national scientific and dissemination activities. This will facilitate the integration of the EF-UNINIS into the European research area as a whole, raising the possibility for networking with related research centres and joint research activities. The increase of visibility and networking capacity of EF-UNINIS in relation to radiation effects research will be achieved through publication of scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals and at world class international conferences. It is planned to publish 6 joint project-related papers in peer-reviewed journals and present 6 papers at international conferences, plus at least 3 papers at national conferences organized in Serbia.

  3. Enhanced knowledge sharing and scientific cooperation at national and regional level: In order to facilitate the networking and knowledge sharing within the scientific community at local and regional level, EF-UNINIS will organize three topical workshops and a symposium. The experts from partner institutions will present, in the form of short talks, the key achievements in the field of radiation affects research. At the end of the project, a symposium will be organized giving opportunity to all scientists dealing with related topics to present their results. These events will provide local and regional scientific communities with an opportunity to get familiar with state-of-the-art technology in the field of radiation effects research.

  4. Increased interest of the general public groups in relation to the ionizing radiation research: The project-related research themes will be communicated to the public through various outreach activities that will take place throughout the project. The communication will be carried out in such a way that it can be understood by the non-specialists. The expected impact is to contribute to rising of awareness of the general public (ordinary citizens, students, policy makers, and business representatives) in relation to the significance of radiation effects research. We will make sure that effective ways of project presentation to non-specialists are used to get key messages across. In particular, we will target improvement of the public's understanding and raising interest in science and research activities in general, and specifically in relation to radiation effects research.

  5. Sustainable collaboration after the project: It is very important to create conditions for sustained positive project impacts beyond the duration of the project. The collaboration with the research intensive EU partners through ELICSIR project will enable future joint research in the field of radiation effects characterization, modelling and simulation. At least two new EU funded research proposals will be submitted during the course of the project. These will be collaborative projects involving ideally all and certainly some of the ELICSIR partners and also additional partners found through networking activities during the project. Experience and state-of-the-art expertise gained in ELICSIR will be beneficial for EF-UNINIS with regards to future national projects. To further foster sustainable radiation research, intensive communication with regulatory/industry/end users (e.g. medical community) will be established and a general strategy for multidisciplinary application of radiation research results will be defined.

  6. New business collaboration agreements and products/services: As discussed previously, the project involves joint work on commercially viable existing and novel devices and coincides with TYN effort to increase existing RADFET sales and develop new commercial device/system based on SGRADFET. TYN has plans to establish a start-up company during the course of ELICSIR and potential involvement of EF-UNINIS in this work could come through commercial agreement with the new TYN start-up related to calibration and electrical characterization services of TYN commercial products. The infrastructure for this activity, established through joint FP7 project RADDOS, mirrors exactly the infrastructure at TYN. ELICSIR project interaction will put in place the necessary expertise at EF-UNINIS.

  7. Improved educational capacity: The project will contribute to significant improvement of the early stage and doctoral research training at EF-UNINIS in relation to ionizing radiation effects. The two main impacts are envisaged: (1) upgrade of the existing curricula and introduction of new courses at MSc and PhD levels to provide the possibility for students to have access to advanced knowledge on ionizing radiation research and perform advanced research, and (2) two to three existing PhD students from EF-UNINIS will be involved in the project activities, and at least two PhD theses on radiation research are foreseen as important outcomes of the project.

Detailed Description of Project Activities

To fulfil the ELICSIR project objectives elaborated in the previous sections, we propose the following activities:

  1. Multi-scale complementary scientific training on radiation effects
  2. Complementary transferable skills training
  3. Networking and knowledge transfer through organization of scientific events
  4. Promotion of project results through dissemination, exploitation, and communication activities
  5. Raising of the awareness of general public and relevant stakeholder groups through outreach activities
  6. Enhancement of educational capacity of EF-UNINIS in relation to ionizing radiation effects research
  7. Creating conditions for sustainable impacts of the project.
Project Methodology Elicsir
Figure: Project methodology

The ELICSIR project is planned for the duration of 3 years. In order to accomplish the proposed objectives, the work plans will be organized into five work packages (WPs), as follows

WP1: Staff and students training
WP2: Establishment of sustainable collaboratio
WP3: Boosting of networking capacity
WP4: Dissemination, outreach and exploitation
WP5: Project management

Participants Elicsir