A Fireside Chat with Wei Shu from Zero-Error Systems
This week, Space Talos was fortunate enough to talk with, Wei Shu, CTO of Zero-Error Systems about their journey, their biggest challenges around radiation and their plans for the future. Zero-Error Systems (ZES) is a spin-off company from Nanyang Technological University, based in Singapore and they develop innovative and unprecedented solutions to enable Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) components into space.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and about Zero-Error Systems? Why did you choose to get into chip designing and space radiation?
ZES was formed in 2019, a spin-off from a research group led by Professor Joseph Chang in Nanyang Technological University. The ZES vision is to be a part of every satellite and high-level autonomous vehicle. The ZES mission is to provide strategic and disruptive hardware and service technologies for space and autonomous vehicles. ZES has secured seed-round investments from several VCs including Airbus Venture, Silicon Solution Venture and Seed Capitals, etc.
Would you characterise your solution software, hardware or a hybrid? Why is that?
ZES’s solutions include hardware, service and IP. The combination of the three provides the ‘turn-key’ solution for ZES’ customers to comprehensively enable their COTS-based satellite systems and/or satellite payloads into space.
What orbits are your products most focused on? Does your work include deep space or interplanetary missions? If so, what are the biggest obstacles you need to tackle?
ZES’ products are tested, qualified and hence applicable for all orbits including deep space and interplanetary missions. As ZES’ technology is based on Radiation Hardening By Design (RHBD), the biggest obstacle is the qualification of commercial foundry processes to space standard.
Which project are you most proud of? Why is it important?
It is ZES’s first product – Latchup Detection And Protection (LDAP). Unlike the conventional solution, ZES’s LDAP is able to uniquely detect the early signature of Single Event Latchup (SEL is the most critical radiation-induced hardware failure in space), hence adequately protect COTS from radiations.
Could you shed some light on your most significant challenges in designing rad-hard chips? How did you manage to overcome them?
The greatest challenge of designing rad-hard chips was the lack of design methodology to verify the radiation hardening performance in simulations. ZES has established a comprehensive guideline to evaluate every design during the circuit simulation phase.
What are the current aims/key next steps for the company?
First, ZES needs to quickly bring our products and solutions into the market with high quality (our company name is zero error). ZES hopes that its solutions will be the gold standard in the space industry, and every satellite will adopt ZES’ products & solutions.
In the next phase, ZES will ramp up our team and seek the next round of funding
What more could be done to support the space industry in Singapore?
Although the Space industry is booming right now, the viability of business models for the space industry is still not well established yet. Added to this there are technological challenges to be overcome. In other words, the risk is still very high, and the return can be also very high. Hence, to keep innovating, the space industry does need support from the government to sustain the business in the early stage.