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Wang B.L.,MEI Technologies Inc.
9th Annual International Energy Conversion Engineering Conference, IECEC 2011 | Year: 2011

This paper describes a novel fault detection technique for hybrid DC/DC converter oscillation diagnosis. The technique is based on principles of feedback control loop oscillation and RF signal modulations, and is realized by using signal spectral analysis. Realcircuit simulation and analytical study reveal critical factors of the oscillation and indicate significant correlations between the spectral analysis method and the gain/phase margin method. A stability diagnosis index (SDI) is developed as a quantitative measure to accurately assign a degree of stability to the DC/DC converter. This technique is capable of detecting oscillation at an early stage without interfering with DC/DC converter's normal operation and without limitations of probing to the converter.

Weachock R.J.,NASA | Liu D.,MEI Technologies Inc.
Proceedings - CARTS International 2013: The 33rd Symposium for Passive Electronic Components | Year: 2013

Leakage current measurements of BaTiO3-based X7R multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) with base-metal electrodes (BMEs) have revealed three distinct failure modes: avalanche breakdown (ABD), thermal runaway (TRA), and slow degradation. Failure analysis (FA) was performed for a number of BME capacitors that failed with the aforementioned three failure modes. The samples that failed with ABD had damage sites that were easily found and that were characterized by the existence of incompletely burned binder particles that were surrounded by transverse cracks that extended through several layers of electrodes from the damaged site, clearly a sequence caused by thermal damage. The samples that failed with TRA also had a particle-like processing flaw with high carbon content, but the flaw was smaller than that of the ABD failure samples. The failure site was also surrounded with extensive transverse cracks that extended through many dielectric layers. Degraded dielectric and conglomerates of nickel spheres were also revealed, indicating a severe thermal event that generated excessive heat and that resulted in the melting of the local dielectric and electrodes. There is no fundamental physical difference between ABD and TRA failures for BME capacitors. The failure mode is a combination of ABD and TRA and is referred to as "catastrophic." The failure analysis on the samples that failed with a slow degradation indicates a failure process that can be described as follows: The electromigration of oxygen vacancies not only gives rise to a gradual increase of leakage current against stress time, but also changes the initial stoichiometry of BaTiO3 grains and causes the local hollowing and melting of dielectric grains and the formation of cracks. The molten dielectric dissolves the internal nickel electrodes and transports the nickel along the transverse cracks, which causes the resistive short. Some of the cracks with dielectric degradation will eventually result in a catastrophic failure. The failure process involves a localized high temperature that can melt both dielectric and nickel. There was no evidence of nickel migration in the BME capacitors, even under highly accelerated life stress conditions. The failure analysis indicates that failure mechanism in BME capacitors with BaTiO3 dielectrics can be more accurately described as a two-stage dielectric wearout that begins with a slow dielectric degradation, characterized by a gradual increase in leakage current with stress time, and followed by a thermally dominated catastrophic breakdown (either ABD or TRA).

Liu D.,MEI Technologies Inc.
Proceedings - CARTS International 2013: The 33rd Symposium for Passive Electronic Components | Year: 2013

An improved highly accelerated life stress testing (HALST) and modeling method was developed and applied to evaluate the reliability of BME capacitors. General reliabilities of multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) with precious-metal electrodes (PMEs) and base-metal electrodes (BMEs) are discussed. A combination of leakage current and mean-time-to-failure (MTTF) measurements under accelerated life stress conditions have been used to distinguish and separate the MTTF data into two failure groups: slow degradation and catastrophic. The slow degradation failures, characterized by a near-linear leakage increase against stress time, fit well to an exponential model over an applied field. A characteristic exponential growth time, TJZ, is defined to describe the reliability life of this failure mode. The two separated MTTF data groups have been fitted to the 2-parameter Weibull model. When data points in the catastrophic subset are used for reliability modeling, the data points of the slow degradation subset are treated as suspensions, and vice versa. MTTF of most BME capacitors reveals an exponential dependence on an applied electric field due to the mixed failure modes. The initial MTTF data for slow degradation failures appears to follow the exponential law, and that for catastrophic failures follows the conventional power law. The reliability model developed with respect to mixed failure modes and acceleration factors agrees well with the HALST results - not only with the MTTF data, but also with the failure modes (catastrophic or slow degradation). BX life has been used to replace MTTF for predicting the reliability life of BME capacitors at 125°C and 2× rated voltage (Vr), the condition that all MLCCs are subject to pass at at least 1, 000 hours life test for consideration for high-reliability space applications. This B0.8 approach can be used to select BME capacitors that exhibit the potential for passing the regular life test when evaluated using the quick turnaround HALST method developed in this work.

Krainak M.A.,NASA | Sun X.,NASA | Yang G.,NASA | Lu W.,MEI Technologies Inc.
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2010

Silicon avalanche photodiode (APD) detectors have been used in most space lidar receivers to date with a sensitivity that is typically hundreds of photons per pulse at 1064 nm, and is limited by the quantum efficiency, APD gain noise, dark current, and preamplifier noise. We have purchased and tested InGaAs avalanche photodiode based receivers from several US vendors as possible alternatives. We present our measurement results and a comparison of their performance to our baseline silicon APD. Using a multichannel scalar instrument, we observed undesired dark counts in some devices, even though the APDs were biased below the breakdown voltage. These effects are typically associated with over-biased Geiger-mode photoncounting, but we demonstrate that the probability distribution indicates their necessity at the high gains typically associated with operation slightly below the breakdown voltage. We measured the following parameters for our 0.8 mm diameter baseline silicon APD receiver: excess noise factor 2.5, bandwidth 210 MHz, minimum detectable pulse (10 ns) in incident photons 110 photons, noise equivalent power 30 fW/rt-Hz. We present our test procedures and results for the InGaAs based APD receivers. © 2010 Copyright SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering.

Liu D.D.,MEI Technologies Inc. | Sampson M.J.,NASA
CARTS USA 2011 | Year: 2011

Base-metal-electrode (BME) ceramic capacitors are being investigated for possible use in high-reliability space-level applications. This paper focuses on how BME capacitors' construction and microstructure affects their lifetime and reliability.

Donhang Liu D.,MEI Technologies Inc.
CARTS USA 2011 | Year: 2011

Power-on failure has been the prevalent failure mechanism for solid tantalum capacitors in decoupling applications. A surge step stress test (SSST) has been previously applied to identify the critical stress level of a capacitor batch to give some predictability to the poweron failure mechanism [1]. But SSST can also be viewed as an electrically destructive test under a time-varying stress (voltage). It consists of rapidly charging the capacitor with incremental voltage increases, through a low resistance in series, until the capacitor under test is electrically shorted. When the reliability of capacitors is evaluated, a highly accelerated life test (HALT) is usually adopted since it is a time-efficient method of determining the failure mechanism; however, a destructive test under a time-varying stress such as SSST is even more time efficient. It usually takes days or weeks to complete a HALT test, but it only takes minutes for a time-varying stress test to produce failures. The advantage of incorporating a specific time-varying stress profile into a statistical model is significant in providing an alternative life test method for quickly revealing the failure mechanism in capacitors In this paper, a time-varying stress that mimics a typical SSST has been incorporated into the Weibull model to characterize the failure mechanism in different types of capacitors. The SSST circuit and transient conditions for correctly surge testing capacitors are discussed. Finally, the SSST was applied for testing Ta capacitors, polymer aluminum capacitors (PA capacitors), and multi-layer ceramic (MLC) capacitors with both precious metal electrodes (PME) and base metal electrodes (BME). The test results are found to be directly associated with the dielectric layer breakdown in Ta and PA capacitors and are independent of the capacitor values, the way the capacitors were built, and the capacitors' manufacturers. The test results also show that MLC capacitors exhibit surge breakdown voltages much higher than the rated voltage and that the breakdown field is inversely proportional to the dielectric layer thickness. The SSST data can also be used to comparatively evaluate the voltage robustness of capacitors for decoupling applications.

Allen G.R.,Jet Propulsion Laboratory | Adell P.C.,Jet Propulsion Laboratory | Chen D.,MEI Technologies Inc. | Musil P.,M.S. Kennedy Corporation
IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science | Year: 2012

Recommendations are provided for Single Event Transient (SET) testing of low dropout (LDO) PNP series linear voltage regulators. A combination of SPICE circuit simulations and pulsed laser irradiations are used to demonstrate that the equivalent series resistance (ESR), loading conditions and regulator stability are the key elements that govern LDO regulator's SET response. Pulsed laser testing of several flight-like candidates shows similar SET trends and dependences. Due to the additional circuits introduced in an LDO design, we reveal the existence of a thermal shutdown mode that can be triggered by a single event that is also load dependent. © 1963-2012 IEEE.

Rogers J.S.,MEI Technologies Inc.
Proceedings of the ACM SIGAda Annual International Conference; SIGAda | Year: 2011

The programming languages currently most popular among software engineers for writing safety critical applications are C and, more recently, C++. The Ada language has been designed with software safety in mind. Although Ada is not perfect concerning safety critical programming, it is far better than C or C++. There have been definitions of subsets of C for safety critical applications, such as MISRA C. Similarly, there are several attempts at defining a safe subset of C++, including MISRA C++ and the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Avionics C++ coding standards. The most commonly used safety critical subset of Ada is SPARK. SPARK provides a statically provable fully deterministic subset of Ada. The C and C++ safety critical subsets attempt to achieve a level of safety similar to the full Ada language. That attempt generally fails. This paper concentrates on a comparing the C++ language, including portions of the JSF C++ standard and those features inherited from C, with the full Ada language. © 2011 ACM.

Li M.J.,NASA | Brown A.D.,MEI Technologies Inc. | Kutyrev A.S.,University of Maryland University College | Moseley H.S.,NASA | Mikula V.,Catholic University of America
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2010

We have developed the Microshutter Array (MSA) system at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) as a multi-object aperture array for the Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The MSA system will enable NIRSpec to simultaneously obtain spectra from more than 100 targets, which, in turn, increases instrument efficiency one-hundred fold. Consequently, this system represents one of the three major innovations on the JWST, which has been selected by the National Research Council's 2001 decadal survey as the top-ranked space-based mission and is scheduled to be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. Furthermore, the MSA system will be one of the first MEMS devices serving observation missions in space. Microshutters are designed for the selective transmission of light with high efficiency and contrast and feature torsion hinges, light shields, deep-reactive ion-etched silicon windows, magnetic actuation, and electrostatic latching and addressing. Complete MSA quadrant assemblies consisting of 365 x 181 microshutters have been successfully fabricated. The assemblies have passed a series of critical reviews, which include programmable 2-D addressing, life tests, optical contrast tests, and environmental tests, required by the design specifications of JWST. Both the MSA and NIRSpec will be delivered to ESA for final assembly, and JWST is scheduled to launch in 2014. During final assembly and testing of the MSA system, we have begun to develop the Next Generation Microshutter Arrays (NGMSA) for future telescopes. These telescopes will require a much larger field of view than JWST's, and we discuss strategies for fabrication of a proof-of-concept NGMSA which will be modular in design and electrostatically actuated. © 2010 Copyright SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering.

Lee S.A.,MEI Technologies Inc.
40th International Conference on Environmental Systems, ICES 2010 | Year: 2010

A test was conducted to evaluate a propylene glycol-based fluid for use in Constellation habitats and vehicles. For this test, the fluid was subjected to a thermal fluid loop that had flight-like properties, as compared to Orion. The fluid loop had similar wetted materials, temperatures, flow rates, and aluminum wetted surface area to fluid volume ratio. The test was designed to last for 10 years, the life expectancy of the lunar habitat. However, the test lasted less than two months. System filters became clogged with precipitate, rendering the fluid system inoperable. Upon examination of the precipitate, it was determined that the precipitate composition contained aluminum, which could have only come from materials in the test stand, as aluminum is not part of the original fluid composition. Also, the fluid pH was determined to have increased from 10.1, at the first test sample, to 12.2, at the completion of the test. This high of a pH is corrosive to aluminum and was certainly a contributing factor to the development of precipitate. Due to the problems encountered during this test, the fluid was rejected as a coolant candidate for Orion. A new propylene glycol-based fluid will be selected by the Orion project for use in the Orion vehicle. To compliment bench-top testing to be performed by the Orion project team, a new life test was designed to test the anticipated new fluid. The new test bed was similar to the original test bed, but with some improvements based on experience gained from the earlier test bed. This paper reports on the initial testing and results as well as the design of the new test stand. © 2010 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. All rights reserved.

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