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ESEM as a Tool for Studying High Temperature Electronics
Keywords: ESEM, In-situ analysis, Thick-film
Researchers studying materials and processes at high temperatures are often restricted to do evaluation afterwards and at room temperature using e.g. scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Limited by high vacuum, outgassing and non-conducting samples are difficult to study with SEM. For such samples, environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM) is an alternative that is particularly suited also for high temperature in-situ studies. The electron detector in the ESEM make use of otherwise unwanted scattering of electrons as an amplifier of the signal, and by using differential pumping, it is possible to introduce several mbar of either oxygen, water vapor, or a gas of choice into the sample chamber while still maintaining the high-vacuum in the electron column. The auxiliary gas neutralizes surface charges built up by the electron beam, which makes it possible to image non-conductive and outgassing samples, thus making it possible to study e.g. polymeric and high temperature materials. Our ESEM, FEI XL30, have a heat stage making it possible to reach temperatures up to 1500°C. Equipped with electrical feed-through, the instrument can be used to study high temperature phenomena on electrically activated components. ESEM is an instrument that has found its use for biological and organic samples. However, less work has been done using it for high temperature processes. Here, we show real-time imaging of the sintering of dielectric and Ag thick-film prints on AlN and SiC substrates. The use of the electrical feedthroughs to activate electrical components and study them at high temperatures is also demonstrated. ESEM is a versatile tool for high temperature studies and in-situ analysis of electrical components, solder processes and different die-attach materials.
Stefan Svensson , PhD Student
Uppsala University
Uppsala, Uppland 75121,

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