Equipment for Physics-of-Failure and Reliability Research in Electronics

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Research and Graduate Services

Abstract

Through its contribution to the establishment of a laboratory dedicated to electronics reliability and packaging, this equipment-rich research project aims will provide an underpinning capability that extends the boundaries and flexibility of existing research programmes and enables new and innovative programmes to be developed in the area of electronics reliability.In an increasingly competitive manufacturing climate, the consideration of reliability and the physics-of-failure (PoF) has become an integral part of the design and development cycle of all electronic products, whether they are consumer items with a design life of 18 months or safety-critical systems with a design life of 30 years. Technology areas of particular interest to the UK include the more electric aircraft (MEA) and automotive electronics, both of which increasingly require electronic systems to be incorporated into operating environments that have hitherto been considered too extreme for long-term reliable operation. Establishing the reliability of systems intended for these environments is hampered by the absence of definitive standards and lack of established test methods and reliability models. Experimental and simulation-based research is therefore essential to establish and validate the PoF models applicable to these environmental conditions, from which accelerated test methods can be developed. The equipment described in this proposal will provide a unique resource that will be accessible by the UK academic and industrial communities for collaborative research. It is particularly aimed at consortia including a mixture of academic groups and smaller companies who wish to develop novel programmes of research in physics-of-failure and reliability testing but who do not, themselves, have the resources to do so. Collaboration will be facilitated through the research instruments of the EPSRC and through the activities of related bodies, such as the recently established Innovative Electronics Manufacturing Research Centre (IeMRC). The proposal targets 3 sprecific items of equipment, namely a high-speed thermography system, a vibration testing system and a thermal shock system, that when integrated with existing systems at Sheffield will provide reliability testing capabilities that are unique in any academic institution in the UK. For example, the combination of the thermography system with laser pulse heating sources will provide access to a range of active transient thermography techniques that can be used in defect analysis and materials characterisation. The combination of a vibration system with the wide-temperature-range rapid thermal cycling system will allow the study of accelerated stress testing methodologies for systems being developed for operating in challenging environments.A key objective of the research enabled by the equipment will be to develop test methods and predictive models that can be used in the design, development and qualification of electronic products in order to meet specific reliability goals. Initial work will combine the results of experimental studies conducted at Sheffield with the results of thermo-mechanical simulations performed at Greenwich in order to construct validated physics-of-failure models for a range of wear-out mechanisms. Further research will concentrate on the introduction of new materials and assembly technologies into power electronic modules with the aim of meeting the stringent environmental and lifetime demands of emerging application areas such as the more electric aircraft. A longer-term key objective is the stimulation of new collaborative programmes of research in reliability and physics of failure across the electronics community.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The funding provided by the project contributed to the purchase of 4 large items of equipment, namely a high-speed thermography system, a vibration testing system, a combined environmental chamber and a stress screening environmental chamber. Additional funding, totalling £200k, was made available by the University of Nottingham to support the infrastructure and increase the equipment funding available.

A key objective of the research enabled by the equipment has been to develop test methods and predictive models that can be used in the design, development and qualification of electronic products in order to meet specific reliability goals. Initial research, supported by the EPSRC-funded IeMRC (EP/H03014X/1) and TSB has combined the results of experimental studies conducted at Nottingham with the results of thermo-mechanical simulations performed at Greenwich in order to construct validated physics-of-failure models for a range of wear-out mechanisms. Ongoing research into the reliability of power electronics is supported through the EPSRC, IeMRC and EU (FP7) and will concentrate on the introduction of new materials and assembly technologies into power electronic modules with the aim of meeting the stringent environmental and lifetime demands of application areas such as transport and energy. Further collaborations involving a range of UK academic institutions are planned.
Exploitation Route Equipment is available for use by academic and industrial partners.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Electronics,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

 
Description The equipment has been used to support a range of research projects and for investigations in direct support of industry.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Electronics,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic