Standard Active Last Updated: Jul 31, 2020
ASTM E1250-15(2020)

Standard Test Method for Application of Ionization Chambers to Assess the Low Energy Gamma Component of Cobalt-60 Irradiators Used in Radiation-Hardness Testing of Silicon Electronic Devices

Significance and Use

4.1 Although Co-60 nuclei only emit monoenergetic gamma rays at 1.17 and 1.33 MeV, the finite thickness of sources, and encapsulation materials and other surrounding structures that are inevitably present in irradiators can contribute a substantial amount of low-energy gamma radiation, principally by Compton scattering (1, 2).3 In radiation-hardness testing of electronic devices this low-energy photon component of the gamma spectrum can introduce significant dosimetry errors for a device under test since the equilibrium absorbed dose as measured by a dosimeter can be quite different from the absorbed dose deposited in the device under test because of absorbed dose enhancement effects (3, 4). Absorbed dose enhancement effects refer to the deviations from equilibrium absorbed dose caused by non-equilibrium electron transport near boundaries between dissimilar materials.

4.2 The ionization chamber technique described in this method provides an easy means for estimating the importance of the low-energy photon component of any given irradiator type and configuration.

4.3 When there is an appreciable low-energy spectral component present in a particular irradiator configuration, special experimental techniques should be used to ensure that dosimetry measurements adequately represent the absorbed dose in the device under test. (See Practice E1249.)


1.1 Low energy components in the photon energy spectrum of Co-60 irradiators lead to absorbed dose enhancement effects in the radiation-hardness testing of silicon electronic devices. These low energy components may lead to errors in determining the absorbed dose in a specific device under test. This method covers procedures for the use of a specialized ionization chamber to determine a figure of merit for the relative importance of such effects. It also gives the design and instructions for assembling this chamber.

1.2 This method is applicable to measurements in Co-60 radiation fields where the range of exposure rates is 7 × 10 −6 to 3 × 10−2 C kg −1 s−1 (approximately 100 R/h to 100 R/s). For guidance in applying this method to radiation fields where the exposure rate is >100 R/s, see Appendix X1.

Note 1: See Terminology E170 for definition of exposure and its units.

1.3 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard. The values given in parentheses are for information only.

1.4 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.5 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 12.02
Developed by Subcommittee: E10.07
Pages: 10
DOI: 10.1520/E1250-15R20
ICS Code: 31.020