Massengill receives IEEE NPSS Radiation Effects Award at international conference

Lloyd W. Massengill, professor of electrical and computer engineering, received the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Science Society Radiation Effects Award at the 2021 international Nuclear and Space Radiation Effects Conference (NSREC) in July. The lifetime achievement award recognizes individuals who have had a sustained history of outstanding and innovative technical and leadership contributions to the radiation effects community.

Lloyd Massengill

Massengill was honored “for technical contributions to understanding radiation effects in microelectronics and leadership in the radiation effects community,” according to the award citation. In his 34-year academic career he has been involved in the development of modeling techniques to simulate the failure modes of integrated circuits in hostile environments. Massengill has more than 400 publications related to radiation effects in microelectronics. His work has been supported by the U.S. Department of Defense across multiple agencies and by many commercial firms involved in the defense industrial base.

“I am deeply moved by the award. The radiation effects community is a great place to spend one’s career. It is the most collegial, supportive and respectful technical community of which I am aware. Our conferences and meetings are like gatherings of briefly separated friends, but with the additional connection of common projects and goals to advance this field that is so vitally important,” Massengill said.

In the 1990’s, Massengill helped establish the Radiation Effects Research Group at Vanderbilt, now the world’s largest academic group specializing in the effects of radiation on ICs.  Over his career he has trained many young engineers in the fields of rad-effects modeling and rad-hard design of integrated circuits, many of whom remain in this field today.

In 2003, he co-founded the Vanderbilt Institute for Space and Defense Electronics, an academic center providing research-driven engineering support for mission-critical microelectronic circuits. This center has provided a radiation-vulnerability assessment for every major technology node to 7nm and the primary radiation-response models to the DoD in support of several major acquisition programs, including the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and others. He served as ISDE’s Director of Engineering from 2003 to 2015.

In 2016, Massengill founded Reliable MicroSystems LLC, a design services company specializing in concept-to-foundry creation of high-reliability electronics for fault-tolerant applications. He established RMS to meet customer-driven needs for the application of advances in fundamental research to applied hi-reliability system design, both commercial and for the Department of Defense. RMS provides the expertise, tools, and intellectual property to the microelectronics enterprise in order to enhance safety, security and reliability of the microcircuit chips that are ubiquitous in modern life and vital to U.S. technical advances.

Massengill’s area of expertise is the study of single-event (SE) radiation that produces soft errors—data glitches or bitflips—in microelectronics and the creation of novel fault-tolerant circuit designs.

Soft errors are due to isolated strikes by ionizing particles such as high-energy particles discharged by the sun, objects in deep space or natural radioactive decay of common materials. Although the impact of single events on a computer chip is localized and transient, as circuits become smaller, the deleterious effect on computer operation can increase dramatically. Total-dose radiation is caused by bombardment over time of subatomic particles released from a variety of sources, including ambient or background radiation on Earth. The accumulated effect of this type of radiation impairs performance over time and can ultimately destroy integrated circuit functionality.

To address these challenges, Massengill leads a team of researchers to investigate high-speed circuit response, analytical model development and design hardening for metal-oxide semiconductor technologies exposed to SE radiation. Using three-dimensional technology, computer-aided design, mixed-mode simulation and IC fabrication and testing to elucidate mechanisms and circuit responses, Massengill has developed SE hardening guidelines and radiation-hardened-by-design techniques under the DoD’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency funding.

Each year, the Radiation Effects Committee of the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society holds the NSREC, an international forum for presentation of research papers on nuclear and space radiation effects and to announce the recipients of its prestigious awards.

Contact: Brenda Ellis, 615 343-6314