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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 .
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. 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. Characterization is the process of determining the correct etch recipe and ﬁxturing to successfully decapsulate a plastic package. using the eight steps in the correct order greatly reduces the time of characterization. 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. Faster Etch Rate. Much less metal damage. Nitric acid uses the lowest temperature of all of the acid types usable in the system. New users and veterans alike share one common dilemma. The characterization process is comprised of only eight steps. The following paragraphs will explain how each of the steps are performed and can be optimized for a successful decapsulation. If decapsulation is not sucessfull with nitric acid. Efﬁcacy has not been tested. Much less metal damage. Acid Choice: Every package has an optimum acid for decapsulation. 4 . sample etch characterization. Lowest grade that will decapsulate Hi-Temp packages.Characterization of Plastic Packages This guide will show you in simple steps the art of characterizing and opening virtually any plastic package for decapsulation. If decapsulation is still not sucessfull ﬁnally use either 98% Sulfuric or 20% Fuming Sulfuric Acid. 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. Least expensive. the next step would be trying the six mixed ratios. The lower the temperature the less chance of thermal stress being introduced to the sample. Faster Etch Rate. The ﬁrst rule in determining the acid type is to start with Fuming Nitric Acid. Lowest grade that will decapsulate plastic packages. Will work in the system.
Reciprocating requires an excellent seal between the etch head. 5 . Conversly. Whenever possible the use of a pocket gasket will optimize the ﬁxturing creating a precice location and cavity deﬁnition in a single gasket. or put simply the higher the temperature the faster the etch. The higher the temperature the more likely there may be metal damage. while pulse will produce a more rounded side wall. the correct ﬁxturing can be chosen. Any leak in any of the mating surfaces will render reciprocating inoperable. Use Pulse Etch only with fuming Sulfuric Acid 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. The deﬁnition gasket is determined by the acid type used for decapsulation. This can be seen because the waste acid will appear to be slowly moving toward the waste bottle while there is no pump operation. Determine Correct Fixturing: Once the acid type and temperature have been determined. Sulfuric acid etches from the center outwards and therefore a gasket that is slightly larger than the die size is required. The temperature range should be between 30 and 50°c in order to protect the metalization. mixed acid. The etch rate will be much slower. When nitric acid is use for decapsulation the etch will be isotropic. Recriprocating etch does not work with applications using only fuming sulfuric acid. Reciprocating works with nitric acid. Standard starting temperatures are: HNO3 75 to 80c Mixed 80 to 90c H2SO4 225 to 250°c In packages where unpassivated metals are used. With an isotropic etch the deﬁnition gasket hole must be slightly smaller than the die size. A reciprocating etch will produce a relatively straight side wall. but the metal will be preserved. Therefore the correct temperature would be high enough to have a fast etch rate with no metal loss. and device to be etched. Determine Pulse or Reciprocating: The choice of pulse or reciprocating etch determines the relative angle of the side wall. gasket. Any leaks will be visible in the waste line. the larger the hole is going to be. This also applies to mixed acid to a lesser extent. and non-fuming sulfuric applications. a different technique is required. In other words the deeper the package.
As a general rule when using nitric acid start with a volume of 3 ml/min. Third Device: Entire Etch area is Hot. which reduces as the waste acid moves away from the etch head. Etching takes 20 sec. Etch Time 60 Sec. Therefore if the color of the waste acid is light brown to clear the volume is correct. Program Settings Heat-up Time 20 Sec. The color of the waste material will determine the correct volume. Etch Time 40 Sec. Etch Time 60 Sec. Sulfuric acid requires a higher volume. Common indication of incorrect Heat-up Time: Decapsulation of ﬁrst device opens correctly. Device takes 60 sec to heat up. Device only takes 20 sec to heat up adding 40 sec to etch time. Device only takes 40 sec to heat up adding 20 sec to etch time.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. Pumping Acid without Etching 20 Sec. Etch Time 20 Sec. If it is dark brown and not moving freely the volume is too low. Efﬁcient and reproducible etching will not occur until the part is at the same temperature as the acid. Second device opens a little more than expected. Having too high of a volume wastes the acid. If the waste acid is dark brown and moving freely the volume is still too low. Correct Setting Heat-up Time 120 Sec. The diagram below shows what is occuring and how to correct the problem. Second Device: Entire Etch area is warmer. Programming of the heat-up time is dependent upon the temperature of the entire heat exchanger assembly and safety cover. For this example.* * Note: For all devices that have a heat sink. Fourth or ﬁfth device requires a reduction in etch time. Third device is almost over etched. Heat-up Time 20 Sec. The reactivity of a given acid is determined by the chemistry and by Etch Temperature. If the waste acid is brown and moving freely the volume is correct. Etch Time 20 Sec. By using 120 seconds of Heat-up Time almost all devices will start the etch process at Etch Time 1. If it is very dark brown and not moving freely the volume is too low. First Device: Everything except the etch head is cold. 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. Pumping Acid without Etching 40 Sec. Having too low of a volume requires a longer etch time than necessary. the ﬁrst device opens correctly. Heat-up Time 20 Sec. 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. 6 . 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. The carrying capacity of the acid is inﬂuenced by the temperature of the acid. If the waste acid is light brown to clear the volume is too high.
7 . or No Rinse for Nitric packages. These are your base etch times. decapsulate the package again using the above base etch time. is to make very small changes to the etch cavity. Start the characterization with the rinse time set to 12 seconds which is the middle of the programmable range. For example if the package is very slightly over etched. For SO and TSOP packages start with 10 seconds. for all other packages 60 seconds works well as a starting time. ( The subtraction of the 3 seconds is to account for the rinse time. If the package is dirty or very slightly under etched. ) Run another sample package using the calculated etch time and make minor corrections as necessary. increase the rinse time in order to make the cavity perfect. The second. If the die is not exposed. or No Rinse for Sulfuric packages. 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.MIxed or No Rinse for Mixed acid packages. The Elite Etch operates with a waste cooling system which increases the back pressure to the heat exchancer. Sulfuric. Rinse Time: The rinse time serves two functions. Next add all of the etch times together and subtract 3 seconds for each time the package was etched. Sulfuric. 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. This back pressure will increase the efﬁciency of the acid by holding the acid on the device for a longer period of time. Examine the package again. 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. Nitric. and very important function. there is little likelyhood of damage to the system during the purge process due to clogging of the system. The easiest way to determine the etch time is to run a sample of the package for a short period of time. Examine the package opening.Etch Time: The etch time is the amount of time ( in seconds ) that the device is actually being etched. reduce the rinse time to make the cavity perfect. The operator has the choice of Nitric. The ﬁrst is to clean the part with cold acid and ﬂush the part and waste line before nitrogen ﬂush. or Sulfuric.
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