Quirks, Chirps and Flakes: The Art of Failure
Lew Li Lian/GlobalFoundries courtesy IPFA
If you don't know what's wrong, how are you going to fix it? That seems to be the philosophy behind an annual symposium that focuses on the failure of integrated circuits. While at the International Symposium on the Physical and Failure Analysis of Integrated Circuits, attendees try to better understand the mechanisms of device failure as well as reliability. But it's not all seriousness and stern brows. There's also a photo contest for memorable images from unintentional flub-ups. The following represent ten of the best from this years' Art of Failure Analysis contest.
This little bird sits contentedly under the microscope’s gaze, but it didn’t fly there on its own. According to Lew Li Lian from GlobalFoundries, in Singapore, “A particle in the hole caused a cavity formation in the precoat material, resembling a birdie.” It won first prize.
Khoo Bingsheng/WinTech Nano-Technology Services courtesy IPFA
Khoo Bingsheng from WinTech Nano-Technology Services, in Singapore, was shocked to see flowers in bloom on the top layer of his gallium nitride sample. He took a series of zoom images until he found a perfect depiction and hopes the image will “bring happiness to all.”
Muhamad Hilmi/ON Semiconductor courtesy IPFA
A surface analysis of metal with a peeling problem revealed these birds on a branch. Muhamad Hilmi Rosnan from On Semiconductor, in Malaysia, thought nothing of the picture when he first captured it, but when he heard about the contest, he looked back through his trove of images and found “loving birds on a tree branch.”
Lee Nean Sern/Infineon courtesy IPFA
Lee Nean Sern of Infineon Technologies, in Malaysia, was testing a transistor experiencing early failure when he ran into what looked like fingers clutching a lemon’s cross section. As it turned out, improper etching had caused a short and inscribed this scene onto the metal.
Leonardo Vinalon/Analog Devices courtesy IPFA
Leonardo Vinalon from Analog Devices, in the Philippines, identified this little creature relaxing on the surface of a glass seal.
Lim Wei Chuan/Infineon Technologies courtesy IPFA
When Lim Wei Chuan from Infineon Technologies, in Malaysia, inspected this irregularity, he discovered a tearful eye there to greet him. An uneven layer of underlying metal beneath led to this sad expression.
Rudolf A. Sia/Analog Devices courtesy IPFA
This vivid landscape is actually the fracture surface of a silicon die, according to Rudolf A. Sia from Analog Devices, in the Philippines.
Phang Nyuk Lin/GlobalFoundries courtesy IPFA
After a sample was etched, Phang Nyuk Lin of GlobalFoundries, in Singapore, discovered that these snails -- apparently in brides’ veils -- had crawled onto the scene.
Lim Chan Way/Infineon Technologies courtesy IPFA
Lim Chan Way from Infineon Technologies, in Malaysia, discovered this “bald-headed man with plain appearance” when cleaving a sample. The industrious monk could have emerged from a light-sensitive material or silicon residue.
Chng Kheaw Chung/Systems on Silicon Manufacturing Co. courtesy IPFA
This delicate snowflake has arms just 20 micrometers long. Chng Kheaw Chung of Systems on Silicon Manufacturing Co., in Singapore, captured the image of crystallization after cleaning a sample.
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