Society’s dependence on electronics has led to high expectations of reliability while those producing electronic components, must provide high yields and reliable products for competitive survival. Failure analysis is no longer a process step performed only upon detection of faulty or failed components; it is now an integral part of production where constant evaluation and review of both prototypes and chips in production is done routinely. As a result, electronics undergo a constant examination and testing both during and following the fabrication process.

An important aspect of the failure analysis process is the visual inspection of the chip. As the chips are comprised of multiple complex layers, examination can be challenging. Removal of specific layers is required to gain visual accesses and at times, provide physical access to “buried” layers. Plasma processing is used to remove various layers without damaging or masking the failures being explored.

Advanced Vacuum has provided reactive ion etching and plasma-enhanced etching systems to fabrication facilities around the world. These companies depend on the reliability of the failure analysis systems as they provide a critical function to the entire fabrication sequence: quality assurance.

Typical Applications

  • Delayering
    • Si
    • SiNx
    • SiC
    • SiO2
    • Quartz
    • Polymers (e.g. photoresist, BCB, polyimide)
    • Metals (fluorine based or sputter etch)
    • Metal dielectrics


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