Manufacturers of high-end semiconductor electronic products used in consumer, industrial, and military applications have long relied on precise testing methodologies to identify the location of defects such as voids, cracks, and the delamination of different layers within a microelectronic device, also known as a chip. Manufacturers employ a range of other techniques: scanning acoustic microscopy (SAM), a non-invasive and non-destructive ultrasonic testing method, has become an industry standard to detect and analyze flaws during various chip production steps and in the final quality inspection after packaging.
In addition, SAM is often utilized as a Failure Analysis method when needed to identify a specific root cause failure mechanism when a device fails during use.
Beyond semiconductor components themselves, today's electronics products contain various specialty metals, alloys, plastics, and glass components. All semiconductor components need to be enclosed and packaged in consumer usable formfactors. As a result, SAM equipment has evolved and is now being used to detect subsurface flaws, dis-bonds, cracks, and other irregularities in these types of materials that constitute “packaging” of semiconductor components.
With the same rigor of failure analysis and quality testing used for semiconductors now being applied to metals and alloys, both the production yield and overall reliability of electronic devices have improved significantly. In doing so, projects are completed in less time while eliminating potential points of failure in the field.
"The reality is that a failure in an electronic product package or a non-semiconductor component can be just as catastrophic as a failure with the semiconductor," said Hari Polu, President of OKOS, a Virginia-based manufacturer of SAM and industrial ultrasonic non-destructive test (NDT) systems. The company serves the electronics manufacturing, aerospace, and metal/alloy/composite manufacturers, and end-user markets.