Cytech Systems’ Lab Take You Deep into Understanding X-Ray Inspection!

April 25, 2023

There is a commonly used method for electronic component testing that not only represents a mature and non-destructive testing approach but also possesses powerful "insight" capabilities. It can detect whether there are internal wafers, whether wafer sizes and orientations are consistent, whether there is misalignment or damage, if lead frames are identical, and if solder wires are correct.

Yes, it's X-Ray inspection!

In a previous introduction to the high-standard quality laboratory at Cytech Systems, we highlighted its three major capabilities: external visual inspection (EVI), X-Ray inspection, and decapsulation.

In this edition, Cytech Systems’ Lab will take you deep into understanding X-Ray inspection! 


1. First Impressions of X-Ray Inspection

X-Ray inspection equipment utilizes low-energy X-rays without causing damage to the inspected objects. It rapidly detects the internal structures of the inspected items by generating X-rays through high-voltage impact on a target. This method is employed for examining the internal structures and quality of electronic components, semiconductor packaging products, as well as various types of solder joints in Surface Mount Technology (SMT).

Therefore, X-Ray inspection is a real-time, non-destructive analysis used to inspect the hardware composition of components. It primarily examines the chip's lead frame, wafer size and quantity, bonding wires, and bubbles. Customers can provide qualified or reference products for comparative analysis.

2. What equipment is needed?

Cytech Systems’ Laboratory uses an X-Ray non-destructive testing instrument (as shown in the image below) for relevant tests."

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X-Ray non-destructive testing instrument

By utilizing it, you can achieve detection based on X-Ray for the issues mentioned below.

01 Inspection of defects in IC packaging, such as delamination, cracks, voids, and integrity of wire bonding.

02 Detection of defects that may occur in the printed circuit board process, such as misalignment, bridging, and open circuits.

03 Detection and measurement of voids in SMT solder joints.

04 Inspection of defects such as open circuits, short circuits, or abnormal connections in various connecting circuits.

05 Integrity inspection of solder balls in BGA packaging and flip chip BGA packaging.

06 Inspection of fractures in high-density plastic materials or voids in metal materials.

07 Measurement of chip size, wire arc measurement, and solder coverage area ratio measurement for components.

3. "How is the detection process conducted?

Most X-ray systems have three-axis viewing capabilities. When the component is mounted on a spindle-type support, it can be fixed in place while rotating each axis. Most systems can move the X-ray head or observation table up and down along the X-axis. 

With this, it is possible to verify whether there are missing chips and wires without the need for electrical testing to confirm this result, saving time and money.

Are there any other limitations to X-Ray testing?

Certainly, according to Cytech Systems’ Lab, depth perception has always been a limitation of X-rays. X-ray systems typically have a controller that allows users to increase or decrease beam intensity and allows for a limited degree of depth control. The range of this functionality is very limited.

4. Case: X-Ray Inspection Exposes Counterfeit components

While gathering data in Cytech Systems’ Lab, a case related to the X-Ray detection of ST3485EBDR was discovered.

When personnel at Cytech Systems’ Lab received the component, they initially noticed a suspicious point regarding the label:

The label for this component is shown below for reference:

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But the label for the batch of parts received by Cytech Systems was like this:

202401-333.jfif

According to the testing personnel at Cytech Systems’ Laboratory, there are mainly two aspects of suspicion regarding the label:

Firstly, for the model ST3485EBDR, the official website indicates that the country of origin is MOROCCO, not MALAYSIA! This model has not been found with MALAYSIA origin from any other source in the market.

Secondly, there are doubts about the QC stamp on the label. This batch of parts, however, is OUTGONG (as shown on the left side in the image), inconsistent with the QC mark in the database, which is OUTGOING (as shown on the right side in the image).

202401-444.png

 Subsequently, Cytech Systems’ Laboratory conducted basic EVI (external visual inspection) on this batch of components, including:

External Visual Inspection - Silkscreen Printing, Passed the Appearance Check
 202401-555.png

External visual inspection - Dimensions meet specifications
 

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External visual inspection-MPT (Magnetic Particle Testing)passed

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After multiple steps of visual inspection passed, in order to further confirm the authenticity of this batch of parts, the testing personnel at Cytech Systems’ Laboratory conducted X-Ray inspection, revealing a crucial point—the lead frame and grain size of the counterfeit product were completely different from the genuine product! Additionally, no official PCN regarding any changes in the grain aspect was found.
 

202401-888.png202401-999.png


It was through the use of X-Ray inspection that the testing personnel at Cytech Systems’ Laboratory conclusively exposed this batch of counterfeit parts.


Other X-Ray Testing Cases

External Visual & X-Ray Testing Case: Inconsistency in grain size, lead frame, and gold sample for a certain ON Semiconductor product.

Sample Model: MBRS260T3G

202401-1111.png

Sample Testing Explanation: Visual inspection revealed inconsistencies between the mold package outline and pin configuration on the side of the component compared to the drawings, while the gold sample's appearance matched the drawings. During further X-Ray inspection, it was discovered that the grain size inside the bulk goods, as well as the lead frame, did not match the gold standard, leading to the identification of counterfeit part.
 202401-2222.png


It's worth noting that the losses incurred in the electronics industry due to counterfeit components are estimated to exceed $5 billion annually, and the high profits make counterfeiters flock to it.

Counterfeit components are typically recycled components, cloned, overproduced, non-compliant, and defective components, as well as components with altered descriptive information. Such counterfeit components often pose serious risks, as the manipulated information within the chips may disrupt the functionality of the entire system. This can lead to early failure of the entire product, or have a negative impact on the stability and reliability of the product.

Therefore, safeguarding the supply chain requires the support of various testing capabilities.

In the future, we will continue to publicly disclose information about abnormal and high-risk components intercepted during our own inspections. By doing so, we aim to help customers and industry be alert to various risks!

 

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