The project NEOLITE is conceived to address a very complex technological problem in the electronics world: the ability to ensure reliable operation of the system and its components in extremely "difficult" conditions. Difficult because these conditions strongly interact with some of the fundamental principles of operation of the electronic components themselves. This doesn't simply refers to the classical "adverse" environmental conditions of many common applications and which are related to thermodynamic parameters (such as temperature, humidity, pressure, etc..) and mechanical parameters (strength, mechanical stresses, vibrations, etc..).
It is evident in fact that for all electronic components whose operation is based on magnetic phenomena (inductors, transformers, solenoids, filters, etc..), the presence of a strong magnetic field environment is able to strongly impact on their operation. The presence of ionizing radiation in the environment is instead a critical operating condition for the integrated circuits and for all semiconductor-based electronic components (diodes, transistors, MOSFETs, JFETs, ...); for this reason there are on the market special components marked "rad-tolerant" capable of operating in the presence of ionizing radiation, but these components are not at the top of the current technology and typically they have a very high commercial price.
Such conditions may occur simultaneously in two complex applications:
1) Devices for medical imaging based on the integration of morphological information (Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI) together with physiological information (Posytron Emission Tomography or PET);
2) Detection of high-energy particles for the study of matter in elementary particle physics experiments;
In these applications, the electronic systems that use many magnetic components and many semiconductor components, and which therefore are sensitive to both hostile conditions mentioned above, are the smart power supply systems (or smart power converter devices).
These are the reasons why the NEOLITE project intends to develop smart power supply systems able to operate in hostile conditions. To develop this kind of smart power supplies we will explore the newest technologies available in microelectronics, new ferromagnetic materials and new semiconductors. We will also perform tests on these components to verify the effect of the magnetic field and ionizing radiation on their operation and performances.