Years ago, a counterfeit electronic component was easy to spot. You could simply look at it and could tell with a visual inspection that the part number had been scratched off and a new part number painted on. However, as technology became more sophisticated, so did the process of counterfeiting. A visual inspection is no longer sufficient for detecting a counterfeit part. The electronic component industry now needs detection techniques such as x-ray examination that can investigate the inside of the electronic component, not just the outside. Although x-ray technology isn't new, its application for use to combat counterfeit parts is relatively new. USBid, Inc.'s AAA Test Lab uses x-ray examination along with many other tests to discover counterfeit parts.
How is x-ray examination used to find counterfeit parts?
X-ray examination is used:
-To verify the internal contents of a semiconductor package including the presence of a die
-To check the integrity of the wire bonds
-To discover the condition of the lead frame
-To investigate the consistency of the internal elements of each device of the lot under test
-To measure the die dimensions for comparison to manufacturer's published data.
What are the advantages to x-ray examination?
The test is non-destructive. The part can be x-rayed and then still used. It does not damage the chip at all. The x-ray examination is also able to be performed without removing the parts from their ESD bags or Moisture Barrier Bags (MBB). The x-ray operator can place the bag directly in the chamber without breaking any seals.
What x-ray equipment does USBid, Inc. AAA Test Lab use?
The inspectors in the AAA Test Lab use an 80kV, 5um resolution x-ray system. Check out our YouTube video to see our x-ray inspection in action.
The x-ray can detect the genuine components.
The following is a photo of a AS7C409615JCTR SRAM device from Alliance Semiconductor taken with the system.
The die, chip and lead frame were consistent on all products tested and the product came from Alliance via a franchised distributor, therefore the part will be classified as a Known Good Device (KGD) for future analysis purposes.
The x-ray can detect what is counterfeit.
Another order for 800 pieces of a National Semiconductor CD4071BCN, produced much different results. Date codes for most of the devices were from the early 90s and the first 50 pieces produced three different lead frames, different die sizes, and some with no die at all.
Limitations of X-ray systems
X-ray systems do have limitations. They cannot magnify an image enough to observe information of the die such as logos, part numbers, company names, etc. In addition, the x-ray beam's ability to detect images of die mounted in ceramic packages requires a higher voltage x-ray tube to attain resolution comparable to plastic epoxy devices.
In order for X-ray examinations to conclusively determine the authenticity of the device being inspected, an X-ray photograph of a KGD is required. However, a thorough evaluation of the entire lot that reveals consistent conformity to die, bond wires and lead frames throughout the lot reduces the probability of sub-standard or counterfeit product substantially.
The need for comprehensive testing
Each test completed by AAA Test Labs has its limitations. That's why USBid, Inc. takes advantage of a wide range of tests to investigate every possible way a component could be counterfeit. In addition to x-ray examination, AAA Test Lab utilizes solderibility testing, non-destructive solvents testing, and mechanical dimensions measurements just to name a few.
About USBid, Inc.
USBid Inc. is an independent distributor of electronic components located in Palm Bay, Florida, USA. Since 1998, we have been helping customers locate and purchase hard-to-find and long lead time components. We are AS9120 and ISO 9001:2008 certified and ESD S20.20-2007 compliant. USBid,Inc. understands that sourcing parts in the open market is challenging. That's why we conduct visual, physical, and chemical analysis of all orders and offer electrical parametric testing to manufacturer datasheet specifications. For more information, contact us.
March 1, 2018
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