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Semiconductor and Electronic Failure Analysis Blog

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Avoid Electronic Failures with (EDS) Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy

So you’re having a problem with a printed circuit board assembly (PCBA). You’ve done all you can to narrow down the failure site, but you’re at the limit of the capabilities your equipment has available to you. What do you do now?

You see it, there’s something on your assembly that shouldn’t be there. Maybe it’s only one return that has the problem. If it’s a household product, you can probably ignore it. But if it’s in a critical market (aerospace, medical, automotive, etc.), your customer wants to know what it is, and how you’re going to prevent it from occurring again.

Or it could be that you’ve seen several of these failures recently and you need to know what the level of your company’s exposure/risk or your customer is demanding immediate containment and a long-term fix.

Diagnosing the Problem

With EDS (Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy) you can determine if the contaminant is organic or not, and what elements are present. This in itself can often help point to the source of the problem, but it it’s an organic material, you should continue with the analysis using FTIR (Fourier Transform InfraRed).

By submitting the sample to a spectrum of the IR band and monitoring the frequencies that are absorbed and those that are reflected, a “fingerprint” of the sample can be obtained.

This technique has been around for decades and a vast library of “fingerprints” has been collected. An electronic failure analysis lab will have access to this library and can match your sample’s fingerprint to it. Thereby, determining its chemical composition.

Suppose it comes back as a flux, but your company uses three different types of fluxes. By submitting samples of the three fluxes to an electronic failure analysis company, their fingerprints can be compared to the original sample and the culprit identified.

You now possess the data you need to resolve the issue successfully. As a bonus, any good failure analysis report will provide the logical step-by-step details to support your conclusion, leading your customer to the same conclusion you arrived at.

Using a well-reputed third-party lab gives your customer confidence in the analysis because the data is unbiased.

In Other Words...

Call IAL! We will work with you to determine the root cause of the failure. With its vast experience and the equipment it has available, IAL can collect the data necessary to determine whether the problem was in the application (over-voltage, over-current, ESD, over-temperature), a problem with the PCB material, a problem with the copper cladding, an open via, or a component problem.

If it is a component problem, IAL can open the package and deprocess the component to its failure site and failure mechanism. If there’s a contaminant present, IAL has EDS, XRF, and FTIR services to identify the material. But IAL doesn’t stop there, we’ll offer solutions to the problem and work with you to identify a plan to fix the problem.

And of course, our reports offer step-by-step details that outline how we came to the conclusion of the failure - meaning clarity for your and your customer.

Yes, IAL can provide you with full set of failure analysis services, with quick response times, and help you fix the problem, save your company money, and keep the stress levels a little lower. Save the hassle. Save the headache. Call IAL.

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