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Environmental Hardening of Integrated Circuits (ICs) for High Temperature Applications
Keywords: High Temperature Electronics, High Temperature Reliability, High Temperature Electronic Solutions
Environmental Hardening of Integrated Circuits (ICs) for High Temperature Applications Although 99+% of all integrated circuits (ICs) manufactured spend their entire operational lives at or below 125°C, there are a number of electronic applications that require operation and survivability at temperatures of 200°C and higher. Typically the silicon (or die) of an IC will functionally operate as well as easily withstand these temperatures. However, the materials selected for the package of the IC often will not. We have empirically demonstrated that an IC in a Plastic Encapsulated Microcircuit (PEM) will typically fail after approximately 25 hours in a 250°C lifetest. The failure mechanisms are Kirkendall Voiding and/or Horsting Voiding, which adversely affects the metallization at the interface of the original gold ball bond and aluminum bond pad. Fortunately, there is a solution. These die can be removed from their packages and can then be “environmentally hardened” to enable them to reliably withstand temperatures of 250°C and above. This requires that the gold ball bonds be fully removed from each bond pad of the removed die. These, now clean bond pads, are then replated with Electroless Nickel, Electroless Palladium and Immersion Gold (AKA: ENEPIG). These, now environmentally hardened die, can then be used in bare die form or reassembled into any desired package using standard gold bond wires. This process produces a highly rugged IC that has been proven to survive 400+X longer than a standard IC in a PEM package, ultimately exceeding more than 10,000 hours in an identical 250°C lifetest. This approach has been empirically proven with more than 100,000 “environmentally hardened” production ICs used in high-temperature production downhole applications over the past nine years. As an additional benefit, this solution has been used to resolve dozens of IC obsolescence issues in DoD applications that have handily passed MIL-STD-883 qualification requirements. This approach is highly scalable and can be readily performed on 10 units or 10,000 units. This solution naturally enables small minimum order quantities (MOQs) and quick lead times and therefore works well with the relatively low volumes of ICs required for most high-temperature downhole and DoD applications. It is not unusual that an IC is available in multiple package options while it is offered in production by the Original Component Manufacturer (OCM). After that IC has become obsolete, inventory of some of the package options often remains available for many years at authorized distributors while other package options are naturally consumed and therefore cease to be available. Because die can be removed from any package and then reassembled into any other package, this approach has the added benefit of making an otherwise obsolete IC available as long as the required die can be located in any package. That die can be removed from the undesired package and then reassembled into the desired package footprint thus resolving an IC obsolescence issue for most any application. This abstract is proposed to educate potential customers of high temperature applications of this technology and make them aware of the benefits of this relatively new, yet proven, highly rugged production capability. HiTech 2018 Abstract 08 February 2018
Charlie Beebout, Program Manager
Global Circuit Innovations
Colorado Springs, CO

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