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High Reliability Microelectronics for Military Applications
Keywords: Military Applications, Reliability , Physics of Failure (PoF)
The U.S. Dept. of Defense (DoD) has initiated multiple efforts to revitalize reliability in defense systems acquisition and development. One of these projects involves updating MIL-HDBK-217 Rev F, the often imitated and frequently criticized reliability prediction bible for electronics equipment. The current version of this document defines a 1960 era actuarial approach where field failure data is fitted to statistical, empirical models to create tables of historical random failure rates for generic families of electronic component in various usage stress conditions. The tables are then used in a part counting technique to create a Mean Time To Failure (MTTF) estimate that can be further de-rated based on thermal stress conditions. It has not been updated since 1995 partly because this approach does not address infant mortality quality and end of life wear our related failure issues. The lack of updates led to expectations that its actuarial approach would be phased out. While there is still support for the actuarial approach in some quarters, the MIL-HDBK-217 revision team workgroup has also proposed modernizing reliability prediction techniques to include and standardize ways of using modern Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) analysis tools with science-based Physics of Failure (PoF) reliability modeling, simulations and probabilistic mechanics techniques. The CAE-PoF approach is based in the analysis of loads and stresses in an application and evaluating the ability of materials in a device to endure them from a strength and mechanics of material point of view. This approach has been proven to resolve many of the current limitations of traditional actuarial based reliability prediction methods. The PoF approach used a virtual Computer Aided Design (CAD) representation of a new device to perform a virtual durability simulation. The result is a detailed reliability assessment of which items (components, material and features) in the new design are the most likely to fail, to which failure mechanisms, their individual time to first failure and their rate of failure growth there after. The interactive use of this analysis capability as the design is being created enables designers to identify and design out susceptibility to failure mechanisms by making design, material and manufacturing choices that minimize failure opportunities. This approach can be considered a form of Virtual Reliability Growth that produces reliability optimized, robust designs. This proposal has been submitted and is under going review. This paper provides a brief overview of PoF methods and reviews the concepts on how they can be applied to update and modernize the reliability prediction techniques in MIL-HDBK-217 from the point of view of a member of the 217 revision team.
James McLeish, Senior Member of Technical Staff
DfR Solutions LLC
Rochester Hills, MN

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