Researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new way to test multilayered, three-dimensional computer chips.
They say their technique could potentially enable chip designers to minimize the effects of electromigration by giving them a faster means of testing chip materials' performance in advance.
"Instead of waiting for months, we can see in days or hours when [microscopic failures are] going to happen," says NIST's Yaw Obeng. "You can run our tests during the material selection phase to see how processing will affect the end product."
The procedure transmits microwaves through the material and measures changes in both the amount and quality of the signal as the material is repeatedly heated and cooled, inducing flaws.
The researchers note the use of microwaves can rapidly provide information about a device's reliability long before a failure occurs, which is impossible to determine with a conventional electrical resistance-based approach.
From NIST News
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