We just received back 3 pieces of equipment that may have been inadvertently put through a Gamma radiation sterilisation process. The equipment is a low-power embedded device consisting of a 16 bit microcontroller with peripheral FLASH memory and SRAM backed up by a lithium battery. The equipment appears completely dead.
What possible effects would Gamma radiation have on embedded devices? FLASH memory corruption? Circuit degradation? Component failure?
The equipment is three nephelometer instruments that we make, which use a quite expensive COTS logger as the brains. The instruments were sent back to us from overseas along with some sediment samples. Customs / quarantine decided that they wanted to sterilise the sediment samples, and I think they must have put the instruments through as well.
The prognosis is probably not too flash [groan].
Depending on energy of radiation, device death ranges from possible to essentially certain.
You can potentially expect all the effects you described.
Even if apparently still operating you may get increased leakage currents and 'general unhappiness'.
What was the gamma source? what energy?, what distance? Why?
Radiation Damage in Electronic Memory Devices PDF
NASA - Chips in space