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Keywords: X-ray, CT, Computer Tomography
As the opportunities for ceramics as interconnections and microsystems continue to develop and become more important within a wide variety of market applications, the role of test and inspection to probe the quality of these new devices becomes ever more important. In particular, the ability to inspect non-destructively for the presence of voids within structures and any interfacial voiding at bonding layers may be a key identifier for the subsequent strength and stability of these devices and their ultimate performance. The use of X-ray technology to investigate ceramic devices allows true non-destructive analysis. This often enables the root cause of issues to be quickly investigated without the need to cut or destroy the sample, an act which may otherwise potentially mask the real situation. The presence, quantity and location of voids can be clearly seen and measured in the X-ray results. This paper will explain the recent developments that have been made in 2D, 2.5D and 3D X-ray inspection and how they can be applied to ceramic applications. 2D X-ray investigation is image based and recent developments include improved x-ray tube technology in terms of resolution, tube power and image penetrating power together with better detector technology and the use of clever image enhancement algorithms. This allows clearer, better contrasted, images to be used for better analysis. 2.5D analysis, sometimes called laminography or limited angle computer tomography (CT) or inclined CT, uses 2D X-ray images to create a 3D model of the sample from which ‘virtual’ 2D X-ray slices, particularly in the z-direction, can be analysed at specific locations within the sample, all without the presence of layers above and below cluttering the view. This is particularly helpful for checking interfacial layers. 2.5D analysis can be performed on a 2D X-ray system platform without the need to potentially cut a larger sample which might otherwise be necessary if full 3D (CT) analysis is undertaken on such hardware. However, it must be understood that although the ‘2.5D approach’ gives good CT data in the z- direction of the resulting model, it provides poor information in the x and y directions owing to the more limited 2D X-ray image information that is captured during image acquisition. The ultimate 3D (or CT) analysis is usually performed on a different system hardware configuration. It provides excellent CT data in x, y and z directions within the CT model. Using a different hardware configuration enables much larger samples to be analysed non- destructively. Recent technological developments in the 3D CT field include the use of new CT algorithms, such as helical CT, where better 3D models are created, allowing better analysis, together with the removal of artefacts that exist in CT models produced using the traditional Feldkamp (cone beam or FDK) CT algorithms. Further improvements in full 3D CT include the use of higher power and higher kV tubes, the use of beam hardening filters (physical and/or computational) and the ability to make high quality 3D models in as short a time as possible by optimising the detector response, the X-ray tube output and the CT reconstruction algorithm for the materials within the sample. In addition to void analysis, the 3D CT technique can also be used for metrology and reverse engineering applications. The limitations and differences between the various X-ray techniques mentioned will also be discussed. The developments indicated above, have often resulted from the need for better X-ray analysis for electronics applications where feature sizes continue to shrink, material densities within samples continue to reduce and speed of analysis is of the essence. All of this can now be applied to the developing ceramic applications market to produce the highest quality information for the best analysis.
Dr David Bernard, X-ray Consultant
David Bernard Consultancy
Garston, none
United Kingdom

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