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The transistors, which used a new kind of gate dielectric material called a self-assembled nanodielectric (SAND), were placed on the space station during a spacewalk March 22. The transistors will remain there for a year as part of a NASA materials experiment to see how they and other materials hold up to the harsh space environment.
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NASA is interested in SANDs because the radiation in space severely damages electronics -- especially dielectrics, since silicon dioxide captures the radiation, which then forms holes and electrons and irreversibly builds up a destructive charge in the transistor. For long space trips -- like the current mission to Mars -- such electronics are exposed to years of radiation. Early tests with nuclear reactors showed that SANDs are largely resistant to such radiation damage.
Callisto
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Callisto
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