Radiation effects on CMOS LC oscillators

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


August 21, 2021


Radiation effects on CMOS LC oscillators

(ref. BAP-2021-622)

Last modification : Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Advanced Integrated Sensing lab (ADVISE) is a research group at KU Leuven Geel Campus performing leading-edge research on radiation tolerant ICs. The group has achieved important scientific results in characterization of advanced semiconductor components under radiation, modeling of radiation effects in circuit simulators and has presented several radiation hardened mixed-signal and analog integrated circuits. ADVISE has its own RELY lab which allows electrical characterization and radiation experiments concerning total dose effects and single event upsets. The research group has gained world- leading expertise in the design of radiation tolerant time-based circuits and is a member of the CMS collaboration at CERN.

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Oscillators are the main buildingblocks for frequency generation and are widely used in communication systems, FPGAs and time-accurate systems. In application such as spacecrafts and satellites, high-energy physics experiments like those installed on the HL-LHC(High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider) and Future Circular Collider (FCC) and nuclear instrumentation such as in the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) fusion reactor, large amounts of ionizing radiation can cause sudden phase and frequency errors in the oscillator due to chargesdeposited by the particles. Fortunately, advancements have been made in the reliability of PLLs over the past 30 years and major improvements were achieved when migrating towards All- Digital PLLs (ADPLL) in which the feedback loop is implemented entirely digitally by replacing sensitive analog blocks (such as charge pumps) with redundant digital filters. Henceforth, the critical circuit remains the oscillator which still operates in analog mode.

Single Event Effects (SEEs) have usually been considered a result of charge collection in the source/drain junctions of a MOS transistor giving rise to Single-Event Phase Transients in the oscillator. Recently, we have made a ground breaking discovery of a secondary and furthermore dominant mechanism LC oscillators which is caused by electron and hole pairs generated in the oxides (SiO2)surrounding the spiral inductor that cause Single-Event Frequency Transients (SEFT). Although inductors are passive structures, their electromagnetic behavior (parasitic capacitance) can be impacted by free charges inside and around its geometry. The main goal of the project is to understand this mechanism and develop techniques to reduce the impact on LC oscillators.

Throughout your research, you will have the opportunity to develop and test several chips to prove your developments in practice.


You have:

  • A master degree in Electrical Engineering or equivalent (Cum Laude).
  • A background in one of the following fields: CMOS Integrated Circuits, Electromagnetic Fields, Radiation Effects on Electronics.
  • A curious mindset and motivation to tackle state-of-the-art research questions.
  • The goal to become a top researcher in the field.
  • Note: We cannot take applications from nationals of the following countries due to access restrictions imposed by the chip foundry: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Sudan, Irak, Pakistan


    We provide you:

  • A 4 year funded PhD at KU Leuven.
  • A place in a world leading research group with state-of-the-art infrastructure.
  • The ability to work independently on your research.
  • Daily supervision and input for your research and technical assistance to develop experiments.
  • The possibility to design, manufacture and test several nanoscale ASICs.
  • The opportunity to work with leading institutes like CERN, IMEC and ESA (European Space Agency).
  • Interested?

    For more information please contact Prof. dr. Jeffrey Prinzie, mail: jeffrey.prinzie@kuleuven.be or Prof. dr. ir. Paul Leroux, mail: paul.leroux@kuleuven.be.

    KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.

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