SAN FRANCISCO—Questions have been raised about contamination and radiation levels of electronics parts from Japan as the country continues to struggle to stabilize nuclear reactors damaged after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, according to a trade group.
The Electronic Components Industry Association (ECIA) said in a statement Friday (April 1) the U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency continues to measure radiation levels of cargo coming from Japan and has received no positive alert for radiation deemed to be at harmful levels.
The CBP said in a statement March 17 that it employs several types of radiation detection equipment in its operations at both air and sea ports to address radiological and nuclear risks. According to ECIA, CBP reports that air and sea cargo is currently being monitored for evidence of radiation and that there is no current risk related to electronic component shipments from Japan.
ECIA said it is monitoring developments in Japan and will provide updates as it receives information about component shipment radiation risks for electronic industry supply chain members.
According to ECIA, other organizations, including the World Health Organization and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, have agreed that there is little or no cause for concern about cargo or packages arriving from Japan.
"Based on the monitoring and testing being conducted by these various agencies, it is unlikely that the authorized components supply chain is contaminated," ECIA said in a statement.
Japanese authorities and Tokyo Electric Power Co. continue to monitor elevated radiation levels near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that authorities were set to use a giant sport-fishing platform and 60,000 liters of sticky resin in a new effort to control radiation and toxic runoff from the plant.
On Thursday, the New York Times reported that radiation readings taken at Fukushima Daiichi as well as miles away remain troublingly high.
I would think so! If they are on a physical surface they might be able to be transmitted to others and they might get sick.
I would think that the greater danger (but not much of one) is the containers and packaging that the ICs are shipped in. These containers must go out into the non-filtered air and be handled all possible sources of airborne radiation. Long story short: external testing for radiation should be more than sufficient. Now as for the IC packaging materials themselves I am not sure what level of radiation contamination they will be subjected to and therefore longer term IC package contamination should be monitored, but again I would expect the packaging materials to be protected.
The chip industry routinely does rad-hardening for ionizing radiations like high energy emag radiation (high altitude flights as well as space applications) and applications in nuclear reactors.
In digital parts, one can expect many soft errors caused by small doses of radiation, bit flips in memories or registers, etc. Higher doses lead to burnouts in power MOSFETS.
Most rad-hardening tests are based on single event effects testing. There is plenty of literature on this in the web.
@John-888: the radiation effects will show up right away in semiconductor devices exposed to it.
Is someone doing computations on how much radiation will pose a threat to devices? Last I knew, the level or radioactivity required to cause issues is not necessarily measureable on incoming materials. Could contamination of items like sputter targets could go unoticed, only to cause soft error rates further down the line? Perhaps someone (suppliers) is beginning long term radiactive emmision testing to convince everyone that all is OK.
In general, much of the chip industry is fabbed and packaged in HEPA controlled areas and are vacuum sealed. So it is unlikely that anything will be present in components. The only thing that bothers me is the "sliding scale" that is currently being used in the clean up efforts. Hopefully, this practice will not get propogated into manufactured goods.
My thanks to the author (Dylan McGrath) for this great article. While this naturally does address the first concern over "harmful levels" of radiation that may affect human health, it does not address whether component exposure to radiation during and after manufacture may adversely change components' performance.
My question is whether radiation may show up in a component's performance now or at a time much sooner than the component's planned expiration.
Having said the components are being contaminated by radioactive particle, will it be the same level as what we take from air? I assume this is just the same so the effect may be minimal. Anyway, just hope the Japanese can quickly solve this issue quickly.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.