Since decades SRON is involved in application of ASICs (Application-Specific Integrated Circuits) and it has has started to incorporate integrated-circuit design into its portfolio in 1998. Currently the ASIC activities are done in close cooperation with the ASIC designers group at NIKHEF and ASIC design houses. The goal of our activities is to create state-of-the-art mixed-signal integrated circuits for space applications, which are not commercially available, with a focus on low-power, radiation tolerant, high-resolution dataconverters and signal conditioning. Applications are in the field of optical (infrared) and gravitational sensor control and readout.
In the FAIR project (Front-end ASIC for Infrared detector Readout), an electronic integrated circuit has been developed for the readout of state-of-the-art NIR/SWIR detectors for future Earth-observation missions and astrophysics. The chip includes high-resolution D/A converters and A/D converters with integrated offset correction and adjustable gain, and voltage regulators to generate bias voltages for the detector. The chip is designed to operate over an extremely large operating temperature range from −218 to +50 degrees Celsius. The goal is to produce a chip suitable for ESA M4 candidate missions like ARIEL. In order to fulfil the challenging stability and low-noise requirements, the read-out electronics need to be placed as close to the detector as possible, thus reducing electromagnetic interference (EMI) and gaining overall signal integrity. The close proximity to the cooled detector requires the read-out electronics to operate at an equally reduced temperature and with low power consumption.
Earlier projects performed by SRON in collaboration with design houses:
- 2007: SHAMROC: SEIS High-Accuracy Mixed-signal ReadOut Chip
- 2006: ESPAX: ExoMars ASIC SPAce Qualification of miXed signal ASICs
- 2005: HACDAC: High resolution, low frequency read-out & control ASIC for LISA/LDIM technology demonstrator
- 2003: High resolution data conversion for future ESA interferometry and (Earth) gravity missions
- 2002: Sciamachy, digital ASIC (Temec) and mixed signal detector readout ASIC (US), on Envisat
- 1999: XMM, 3 digital ASICs (CIR)
- 1998: GOCE, Gradiometer read-out and actuation