To study and predict radiation induced degradation of optoelectronic devices, with particular interest in image sensors based on APS (active pixel sensing) technology, as well as of InGaN, GaP and AlInGaP semiconductor materials.
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Surface contamination involving micrometric particles, microbiological agents, molecular adsorbate and others, represent a significant hazard in many areas of industry. For instance, a high level cleanliness is a critical requirement that any EEE device has to fulfil at any development stage: from the fabrication process of single components, before encapsulation, to the final PCB assembly. This is so because micro- and nanometric foreign materials may produce corrosion, electrochemical migration, delamination or cause parametric changes. These and other contamination-induced phenomena are responsible for impairment performance, incorrect test results and, most importantly, the catastrophic fail of complete units. Beside such adverse effects, non-conducting contaminants can also contribute to electrostatic discharge, particularly in the space environment. Therefore this is a vital concern for different national and international aerospace, military and space agencies, which have adopted strict protocol about this issue.
Passive liquid crystal (LC) devices are becoming an interesting alternative for the manufacturing of photonic devices in spatial applications. These devices feature a number of advantages in this environment, the lack of movable parts, and of exposed electronics being among the most outstanding ones. Nevertheless, the LC material itself must demonstrate its endurance under the harsh conditions of space missions, including launch and, perhaps, landing. In this paper, we present the environmental testing of an LC device for space applications. A number of LC based beam steering devices were manufactured, characterized, and tested in a series of destructive and nondestructive tests defined by the European Space Agency (ESA). The purpose was to evaluate the behavior and possible degradation of the LC response in simulated space environments.