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Published by: mcfluffin on Sep 10, 2010
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Elite Etch Basic Decapsulation Process Guide


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—4 Acid Choice:—4 Acid Temperature: ––5 Determine Correct Fixturing: —5 Determine Pulse or Reciprocating:—5 Determine Heat-up Time:—6 Determine Etch Volume:—6 Rinse Time:—7 Etch Time:—7 3 .Contents Characterization of Plastic Packages—4 The characterization process is comprised of only eight steps.

using the eight steps in the correct order greatly reduces the time of characterization. Nitric acid uses the lowest temperature of all of the acid types usable in the system. If decapsulation is still not sucessfull finally use either 98% Sulfuric or 20% Fuming Sulfuric Acid. Acid Choice: Every package has an optimum acid for decapsulation. 4 . Faster Etch Rate. Wider temp range. The following paragraphs will explain how each of the steps are performed and can be optimized for a successful decapsulation. The characterization process is comprised of only eight steps. For this first step any definition gasket that has an opening that is 50% of the size of the package may be used to determine the correct acid type to be used. Least expensive. Efficacy has not been tested. The first rule in determining the acid type is to start with Fuming Nitric Acid. sample etch characterization. Much less metal damage. 1) Determine Correct Acid Type 2) Determine Temperature 3) Determine Fixturing 4) Choose Pulse / Reciprocating 5) Determine Heat-up Time 6) Determine Acid Volume 7) Determine Etch Time 8) Determine Rinse Time While everyone ultimately follows these eight steps. Lowest grade that will decapsulate plastic packages. Much less metal damage. the next step would be trying the six mixed ratios. Will work in the system. Common Acids Used For Decapsulation: TYPE 90% Fuming Nitric 98% Fuming Nitric Red Fuming Nitric 96 to 98% Sulfuric 20% Fuming Sulfuric USES Least expensive. The lower the temperature the less chance of thermal stress being introduced to the sample. Characterization is the process of determining the correct etch recipe and fixturing to successfully decapsulate a plastic package. If decapsulation is not sucessfull with nitric acid. Faster Etch Rate. Lowest grade that will decapsulate Hi-Temp packages. The first thing to remember is: All plastic packages follow the same characterization process no matter what type of package you are trying to decapsulate.Characterization of Plastic Packages This guide will show you in simple steps the art of characterizing and opening virtually any plastic package for decapsulation. New users and veterans alike share one common dilemma.

Reciprocating requires an excellent seal between the etch head. The etch rate will be much slower. This can be seen because the waste acid will appear to be slowly moving toward the waste bottle while there is no pump operation. The definition gasket is determined by the acid type used for decapsulation. and device to be etched. gasket. Reciprocating works with nitric acid. The higher the temperature the more likely there may be metal damage. Standard starting temperatures are: HNO3 75 to 80c Mixed 80 to 90c H2SO4 225 to 250°c In packages where unpassivated metals are used. while pulse will produce a more rounded side wall. Conversly. A reciprocating etch will produce a relatively straight side wall. Sulfuric acid etches from the center outwards and therefore a gasket that is slightly larger than the die size is required.Determine Etch Temperature: The basic rule for determining the temperature is as follows: The closer the etch temperature is to the boiling point of the acid the more reactive the acid will be. but the metal will be preserved. When nitric acid is use for decapsulation the etch will be isotropic. Recriprocating etch does not work with applications using only fuming sulfuric acid. mixed acid. This also applies to mixed acid to a lesser extent. Use Pulse Etch only with fuming Sulfuric Acid applications. The temperature range should be between 30 and 50°c in order to protect the metalization. the larger the hole is going to be. With an isotropic etch the definition gasket hole must be slightly smaller than the die size. Therefore the correct temperature would be high enough to have a fast etch rate with no metal loss. the correct fixturing can be chosen. a different technique is required. In other words the deeper the package. 5 . and non-fuming sulfuric applications. Determine Correct Fixturing: Once the acid type and temperature have been determined. or put simply the higher the temperature the faster the etch. Determine Pulse or Reciprocating: The choice of pulse or reciprocating etch determines the relative angle of the side wall. Whenever possible the use of a pocket gasket will optimize the fixturing creating a precice location and cavity definition in a single gasket. Any leak in any of the mating surfaces will render reciprocating inoperable. Any leaks will be visible in the waste line.

Sulfuric acid requires a higher volume. The color of the waste material will determine the correct volume. the first device opens correctly. Heat-up Time 20 Sec. Device only takes 40 sec to heat up adding 20 sec to etch time. If it is very dark brown and not moving freely the volume is too low. Having too high of a volume wastes the acid. Correct Setting Heat-up Time 120 Sec. Etch Time 20 Sec. If the waste acid is dark brown and moving freely the volume is still too low. 6 . Third device is almost over etched. Etch Time 60 Sec. Pumping Acid without Etching 40 Sec. The diagram below shows what is occuring and how to correct the problem. Efficient and reproducible etching will not occur until the part is at the same temperature as the acid. Etching takes 20 sec. Second device opens a little more than expected.* * Note: For all devices that have a heat sink. Common indication of incorrect Heat-up Time: Decapsulation of first device opens correctly. Fourth or fifth device requires a reduction in etch time. Having too low of a volume requires a longer etch time than necessary. If it is dark brown and not moving freely the volume is too low. Etch Time 20 Sec. Etch Time 40 Sec. For this example. which reduces as the waste acid moves away from the etch head. Second Device: Entire Etch area is warmer. Therefore if the color of the waste acid is light brown to clear the volume is correct. Pumping Acid without Etching 20 Sec. Third Device: Entire Etch area is Hot. Device takes 60 sec to heat up. If the waste acid is brown and moving freely the volume is correct. As a general rule when using nitric acid start with a volume of 3 ml/min. The reactivity of a given acid is determined by the chemistry and by Etch Temperature. Device only takes 20 sec to heat up adding 40 sec to etch time. The carrying capacity of the acid is influenced by the temperature of the acid. Program Settings Heat-up Time 20 Sec. place the device on a hot plate at 85% of programmed temperature for 30 minutes to ensure that the 120 second Heat-up Time will start the etch process at Etch Time 1. If the waste acid is light brown to clear the volume is too high. Etch Time 60 Sec. By using 120 seconds of Heat-up Time almost all devices will start the etch process at Etch Time 1.Determine Heat-up Time: Heat-up time is the amount of time that is required to preheat the device to match the etch temperature selected. Determine Etch Volume: The etch volume is the amount of acid used in ( ml/min ) that is programmed in the etch time. Heat-up Time 20 Sec. Heat-up Time 20 Sec. Programming of the heat-up time is dependent upon the temperature of the entire heat exchanger assembly and safety cover. The volume is determined differently when using nitric or nitric/sulfuric mixes when compared to sulfuric acid although both share a similar characteristic in that they each have waste material carrying capacity based on the reactivity and heat of the acid. First Device: Everything except the etch head is cold.

Sulfuric. ( The subtraction of the 3 seconds is to account for the rinse time. is to make very small changes to the etch cavity. ) Run another sample package using the calculated etch time and make minor corrections as necessary. These are your base etch times. Next add all of the etch times together and subtract 3 seconds for each time the package was etched. or No Rinse for Nitric packages. This back pressure will increase the efficiency of the acid by holding the acid on the device for a longer period of time. If the package is dirty or very slightly under etched. there is little likelyhood of damage to the system during the purge process due to clogging of the system. If the die is not exposed.MIxed or No Rinse for Mixed acid packages. The second. For SO and TSOP packages start with 10 seconds. Rinse Time: The rinse time serves two functions. The first is to clean the part with cold acid and flush the part and waste line before nitrogen flush. If the rest of the recipe is characterized you can make small changes to perfect the etch. reduce the rinse time to make the cavity perfect. Sulfuric. and very important function. The operator has the choice of Nitric. Continue to re-decapsulate the package changing the etch time to a shorter etch time only when you reach a decapsulation point at which it seems probable that an additional time increment (10 seconds or 60 seconds) will over etch the package. Start the characterization with the rinse time set to 12 seconds which is the middle of the programmable range. Examine the package again. or Sulfuric. This is especially true of parts that are opened using 20% Fuming Sulfuric Acid where the etch rate may be up to five times faster than other systems. Examine the package opening.Etch Time: The etch time is the amount of time ( in seconds ) that the device is actually being etched. increase the rinse time in order to make the cavity perfect. decapsulate the package again using the above base etch time. For example if the package is very slightly over etched. The Elite Etch operates with a waste cooling system which increases the back pressure to the heat exchancer. for all other packages 60 seconds works well as a starting time. Nitric. or No Rinse for Sulfuric packages. The easiest way to determine the etch time is to run a sample of the package for a short period of time. 7 . As the Elite Etch has active pressure monitoring.

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