Physics Department Seminar
Dr. Garry Tarr
Department of Electronics, Carleton University
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Custom Integrated Circuits for Experimental Physics


The “silicon foundry” concept has progressed to the point where it is possible to design a custom CMOS integrated circuit for use in a specific experiment and obtain small quantities of the chips at costs on the order of a few kilodollars. The power of this approach will be illustrated via a research project underway in the Department of Electronics in which a foundry CMOS process is used to produce a custom IC optimized to detect the alpha particles produced in the decay of the noble radioactive gas radon and its progeny. This chip is the key component in a “continuous” (direct-reading) radon monitor prototype aimed at production at very low cost in high volume. In some experiments- for example, monolithic integration of a sensor incorporating materials not normally permitted in a CMOS process- it may not be possible to obtain chips from commercial foundries. In these special cases Carleton's Department of Electronics Microfabrication Facility can provide in-house fabrication of silicon-on-insulator CMOS ICs with gate lengths down to 1 μm at integration densities up to roughly a thousand transistors. Examples of such chips will be given