Elite Etch Basic Decapsulation Process Guide


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Contents Characterization of Plastic Packages—4 The characterization process is comprised of only eight steps.—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 .

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. Characterization is the process of determining the correct etch recipe and fixturing to successfully decapsulate a plastic package. Lowest grade that will decapsulate Hi-Temp packages. The first rule in determining the acid type is to start with Fuming Nitric Acid. using the eight steps in the correct order greatly reduces the time of characterization. sample etch characterization. Faster Etch Rate. 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. 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. Faster Etch Rate. The characterization process is comprised of only eight steps. If decapsulation is not sucessfull with nitric acid. The following paragraphs will explain how each of the steps are performed and can be optimized for a successful decapsulation. 4 . New users and veterans alike share one common dilemma. The lower the temperature the less chance of thermal stress being introduced to the sample. Much less metal damage. Lowest grade that will decapsulate plastic packages. the next step would be trying the six mixed ratios. 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. Wider temp range. Least expensive. 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.Characterization of Plastic Packages This guide will show you in simple steps the art of characterizing and opening virtually any plastic package for decapsulation. Nitric acid uses the lowest temperature of all of the acid types usable in the system. Much less metal damage. Efficacy has not been tested.

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

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

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

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