Equipment Capabilities

  • Scanning Acoustic MicroscopySAM uses sound waves to form an image of the inside of the specimen (much like ultrasound analysis used by hospitals).  It complements X-ray as it is useful in identifying cracks, delaminations, voids, and other workmanship issues and failures.   
  • Atomic Force Microscope (AFM):  Scans a device with a 10-nm tip radius, providing a 3D profile of the topography. The AFM is used when the topography of a layer is desired.  It has incredible x-axis measurements and mapping capability..
  • eXternally-Induced Voltage Alteration:  XIVA scans an exposed silicon die with two different laser frequencies to either heat the components in an IC, or to generate hole-electron pairs in the silicon of the sample.  If defects are present, they may be highlighted by this external stimulus, showing as a localized change in voltage.  This technique may be performed top-down, or through the bottom of the silicon (after removing the package material under the die, and thinning).
  • Focused Ion Beam (FIB):  Uses a gallium beam to mill away materials, used mainly for ICs.  It can be used to “cut and paste” metal lines (editing actual IC devices by cutting and re-routing metal lines) and make cross sections.  IAL mainly uses it to isolate areas of interest on the die to aid in the identification of the failure site.
  • Liquid Crystal (L/X):  Temperature sensitive liquid crystals are applied to the surface of the sample while the sample is in its failing state.  Hot spots cause the L/X to transition making the identification of the failing area known to the analyst.
  • Photo-Emission Microscopy (PEM or LEM):  Another technique used to isolate the area that is failing.  While the device is in the failing mode, night vision technology is used to inspect the sample for light emissions.  Certain failure mechanisms (leaky oxides, diode breakdowns, and hot carrier injection for example) will emit light in the visible and near-IR wavelengths, which is detected by the PEM.  This technique may be used top-down or through the backside of the silicon die (after localized package removal and die thinning).
  • Reactive Ion Etcher (RIE):  Removes oxide layers and organics from integrated circuits (IC).
  • Real-Time X-ray: provides real-time inspection of ICs, discretes, semiconductors, PCBs, and PCAs for workmanship issues.  It is very popular for BGA solder bump analysis (provides information on bump shape, solder voiding, alignment and other key factors), and an excellent tool for die attach analysis.
  • Thermal Microscopy: utilizes an IR-camera to thermally map the surface of an IC, package, or board.
  • X-ray Fluorescence (XRF):  is a non-destructive test that is very accurate in the measurement of thin metal films and is used for plating thickness measurements.
  • Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR): is used to identify chemicals that are organic. It can quantify some components of an unknown mixture. It can be applied to the analysis of solids, liquids, and gasses.
  • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM): Provides a high magnification and high resolution images at magnifications up to 150,000x .
  • Energy Dispersive X-ray analysis (EDS): can be used along with the SEM analysis to identify the elemental composition of materials with atomic number above beryllium.
  • Zeiss Optical Microscope: (OM) Optical microscopy is the mainstay of all inspections.  This tool provides all the necessary imaging modes including: bright field, dark field, polarized and differential interference contract.  This tool is also equipped for high resolution image capture, image stitching (mosaic) and multi-focal plane image stacking (Z-stack).
  • Dye and Pry: BGA packages may have cracks or opens at specific temperatures, or that might develop over time.  Opens are extremely hard to identify with any non-destructive technique. Dye and Pry allows the identification of all the solder balls that are open (e.g., microcracks, cold solder joints, etc.).  In this method, the sample is submersed in a dye and the vessel pressurized.  It is then removed; the dye is washed off, and cured.  Pulling the BGA from the PCB and examining the solder balls reveals much about the solder processes, as well as identifying problem joints (that the dye penetrated).  
  • Wire Pull:  Provides a destructive method for determining wire bond quality as specified in many methods such as Mil-Std-883.
  • Decapsulation:  Provides a controlled method to open any type of plastic package without damage to the fragile semiconductor inside.
  • Microprobe: Allows access to internal device nodes for electrical stimulus or testing.
  • Parallel Lapping: Technique allows the systematic and sequential removal of layers on devices using a CMP process.  This tool has been successfully released for aluminum and copper CMP processes as well as RDL technologies.
  • Precision Mechanical Cross-section: Technique has been developed and used to reveal device structures including stains for delineating N and P regions.