EES: Extreme Environment Solutions
Who We Are:
Global Circuit Innovations (GCI) specializes in providing environmentally hardened ICs and hybrid solutions for extreme environmental applications. We use proprietary processes to lengthen the lifetime of an IC at a very high temperature application (e.g.; >175°C) by 250 times.
Each of the principal members of GCI have decades of experience in the semiconductor industry in IC Failure Analysis, Design, Testing, Assembly, Program Management and Manufacturing as well as PCB and system design.
What We Offer:
GCI has developed an advanced, non-destructive, die-extraction technique through our Advanced Extraction Solutions (AES) product line that allows us to remove a die from any semiconductor package making that die available in bare die form to be repackaged in any other available package or used in bare die form.
Using GCI’s proprietary techniques, dice can be removed from any plastic or ceramic packages and then reassembled into ceramic packages using proprietary materials and techniques in such a manner that their survivability will be increased by 250 times at high temperatures about 200°C.
We can perform this hardening service on ANY commercially available IC from ANY IC manufacturer thereby providing our customers with significantly increased survivability in rugged, high-temperature applications such as down-hole oil well drilling and other highly-demanding industrial applications.
The Solution We Provide:
Our customers can prototype their systems using any ICs from any IC manufacturer. Once the designs have been proven for suitable performance, we can then selectively replace the ICs in the design with production volumes of Environmentally Hardened versions of the same ICs having identical lead footprints which can replace the plastic ICs on the same boards.
In this manner, the system survivability is increased by 250X for elevated temperature operation above 175°C.
The Reliability Data using our Solution:
Each of our customers perform their own internal qualification processes and qualify our products on a case by case basis for their own applications. We have had no issues passing any qualification testing to which our products have been subjected and we fully expect that our products will experience the same level of success in each customers' qualification testing.
Our ICs have passed all qualification testing to which they have been subjected and they have performed as well or better than the original IC packaged from which the die originated.
GCI routinely performs a large amount of accelerated life testing at elevated temperatures for our Extreme Environment Solutions (EES) products. For example, we have found that one particular popular plastic IC stopped functioning after only six (6) hours of unbiased exposure at 250°C where the exact same die from the same wafer lot that has been removed from its plastic package and reassembled into a ceramic package using GCI's proprietary techniques will survive more than 1500 hours at 250°C under identical conditions. This is a 250X multiple in product lifetime at 250°C under identical conditions.
Commercial ICs in plastic packages are generally manufactured to have 100-year lifetimes at 50°C under continuous operation. These lifetimes are extrapolated from accelerated life-tests performed generally at 125°C (for 1000 hours) or at higher temperatures for exponentially shorter time periods according to the activation energy of the IC failure mechanisms of concern. This 250X increase in lifetime that we have achieved under identical conditions (250°C) is highly significant given the fact that the die are identical between the original plastic package and the removed and reassembled die that was assembled into ceramic packages. The test conditions are, of course, also identical. The reason for this enormous disparity for the same die between ceramic and plastic packages is because the materials used in a plastic package greatly accelerates a failure mechanism that exponentially increases to quickly become the predominant IC failure mechanism at temperatures at or above 175°C.
We often suggest that a prospective customer first try an evaluation with only 20 units which we would gladly provide at that a reasonable unit price. GCI is quite flexible and we wish to earn our customer's trust that our process is highly reliable and is also the lowest cost solution available compared to alternate solutions (e.g., redesign of an IC or of a PCB/system). The excellent data that will be generated from these evaluations will prove the merits of this approach.
What Risks are there with the Die Extraction and Reassembly Process?:
The chemicals used to remove the die from their plastic packages are fairly aggressive but these chemicals are no more aggressive than the chemicals to which these die were routinely exposed when they were originally processed in a wafer fabrication facility in their original wafer form. We also thoroughly clean the chemicals from the die following the die removal process. Following the die removal process, we end up with a pristine die that looks like a typical bare singulated die with the exception that the original gold ball bonds are still present on the bond pads. Subsequent wire bonding is bonded to the original gold ball bond which has a very high capability that is equivalent to a gold ball bond on a virgin aluminum bond pad with the same distribution of bond pull strength. Adherence of gold to gold is extremely high. (See attached sample photos) We also routinely work with aluminum bond wire as necessary to achieve the best available solution.
We are extremely careful NOT to introduce mechanical strain to the die at any point through our process as this can cause microcracking of polysilicon CMOS gates which would introduce an unwanted leakage and a potential latent reliability issue in an IC. Our die removal process is strictly a chemical process, not a mechanical process for this reason.
To date, our products have passed all of our customer’s testing and have performed as well or better than the original ICs that our products are replacing.
What Are the Next Steps?:
If our capability interests you, or if you have a program which could benefit from our technology, please call us today so we can provide you with a cost-effective proposal to meet your needs.