Those involved in IC manufacturing would realize that the process of IC making is beyond human imagination. Do you know that in your handphone there are billion of switches or known as transistor. Can you imagine when a single of the billion transistors is not working. Of course your handphone is not working too. Therefore how the manufacturers can ensure that all the billion transistors are functioning? The truth is they are not magician but they can make things like magic. The technology has been on the earth for 40 years but people are not well exposed due to some unknown reason.
IC RELIABILITY TESTING Training
IC manufacturing covers a wide range of process in producing a single chip. One of the process in IC manufacturing is called reliability IC testing. An intensive training in IC Testing methodology was held in MIMOS and the course was conducted by IC specialist Dave Keith from Hewlett Packet (Former).
Three days course highlighted a lot of issues in Testing Methodology. Testing strategies for Monster chip nowadays becomes crucial due to million of transistors involved in a single chip. Testing algorithm covers functional testing and reliability testing. In functional testing the Device Under Test (DUT) requires million of test patterns for full coverage. Test patterns are generated by Automatic Test Equipment and the equipment used are very expensive. While reliability test is a process that involves with endurance test. In some cases passed DUT under functional testing may not survive when they are run under reliability test.
RELIABILITY TEST & FAILURE ANALYSIS
Most of Semiconductor companies in Malaysia are doing reliability test for checking the end product of microchip. Reliability test involves endurance and performance investigation. All IC products must undergo this process before they are being shipped out. Performance test such as speed parameters (e.g. jitter, clock speed, slew rate) requires intensive techniques to verify the DUT is complying the customer’s specification. Any failure DUT is subjected to undergo intensive failure analysis procedure. The purpose is to identify the failure and make a correction process on design or manufacturing process. The identification of the failure is very complex and it could consume few days or month. The person who is working for the failure is known as IC Test Engineer. Knowledge, experience and equipment are the most crucial for the engineer to beat the time in searching the failure.
Examples of failures as shown above are fall under bridging (short), Metals breaks and particles contamination. Why they are so difficult to trace? The main factor is due to its size which is in nano-meter or we can describe as 10 times smaller than bacteria. The coverage of searching is so big exactly like you are looking for a needle drooped on a football field.
TECHNOLOGY EXPOSURE TO GRADUATES
How you can get involve with the technology? UniKL BMI offers a degree course in Electronics Engineering Technology which emphasizing two specialized subjects in IC Technology. 1st Subject (Semiconductor Technology I) unfolds the technology of semiconductor materials. Students learn all the process of doping process in which materials in Group IV e.g. silicon and germanium were restructure to becomes semiconductors. Two types of semiconductors that known as P-Type and N-Type were matched to produce a switch or so called P-N junction. The junction has tremendous impact to the world whereby it becomes the key to produce electronics equipment such as handphone, Audio-Video system, camera, weapon and etc. The 2nd subject is Semiconductor Technology II in which students are being taught to understand the concept of IC design layout.
The above diagram shows the basic structure of circuit in the form of IC layout. In the design process all rules must may obeyed for perfections. IC design emphasizes zero errors therefore a software with sophisticated tools are used to ensure no errors within the layout.
Within the two courses students also have an industrialmanship visit to semiconductor industries. The visit is manned for exploring the industries to overview the workplace, equipment, production and technology.
The above photo is a group picture of semiconductor student from Semester II year 2016.
The above photo is a group picture of semiconductor student from Semester I year 2016.
The two comprehensive subjects are specifically structured to build up a technologist in IC manufacturing. They have strong knowledge in semiconductor physic, fundamental IC layout, Failure Analysis and IC software tools. The opportunities would make them ready to work as IC Engineer, Failure Analysis, Layout Engineer and Production Engineer.
WHAT EXPERT SAY
Ismail Hashim who has been working in the industries for 12 years and currently hold senior position as Staff Engineer. Graduated from University Technology Malaysia in 2002, joined Hitachi, Penang to serve his scholarship agreement for 3 years and finally decided to leave the company and joined Infineon, Kulim for better position. Through the years he built up his strength in IC manufacturing and now strongly manage a group of engineers for IC analysis section. His aim for the ultimate position in Infineon is to be Regional Engineer. His belief and hardworking becomes the key factor for successful carrier. A short discussion between writer and the person has been carried out and the summary of the discussion are outlined as follow:
What are the main products of Infineon?
Infineon is specializing in IC manufacturing for automotive, power IC and microcontroller.
What is the current trend of transistor sizing?
It is entirely depends on the application of device. The smallest size which has been successfully fabricated is 25 nm. However Power Device such as IGBT emphasize bigger size to compensate the current drive for the high power application. Range size that being used would be 200 nm 350 nm.
Through your years of service in IC failure analysis, what is your recommendation on subject contents for undergraduate studies?
Graduate who wish to join this industries must have strong foundation on semiconductor physic. A lot failures involves with analyzing the contents of the semiconductor materials. Deep knowledge in this topic would certainly help the engineers to diagnose and treat the failure faster and accurate. In few cases, the solution is critically needed and ultimately cut down the cost of manufacturing.
What others skills that graduate must have?
A lot of machines and equipment in the production requires pre-programmed, code installation and etc. The process of this task requires knowledge in basic programming. Graduate must have strong knowledge in programming especially C++, python, or Visual Basic. Some engineers involve with equipment on maintenance and servicing. The performance is measured and based on the frequent of machine breakdown and how fast the process of keep it up back to production.
How do you feel the environment of the work place in Infineon?
I have been working with two different companies. Before I worked with Hitachi which was Japan based factory. Japan companies have strong believe on punctuality and most of the staff are struggling. The culture to perform makes them to extend their working time everyday. However in Infineon, the people are very flexible and promote friendly environment. Each staff being motivated with carrier path, training and new salary scheme. The company emphasizing “High Performance Behavior” as work ethic model in order to increase production. In general Japan and German are considered as successful nations in industry. Both cultures are workable . However I tend to choice German company as better place in term of their human touch.
Last but not least what is your advice to the young graduate who wish to join Infineon?
Graduate must prepare themselves to understand the environment in the company. Outcomes are counted to justify your contribution. Company is expecting maximum contribution for the growth of the company. Graduate also should build up their time management and becomes main character to show their seriousness. Late is not compromise at all. Life long learning is strongly encouraged to ensure the knowledge is up to date.
MIMOS AS IC Training Centre
MIMOS is set-up for facilitating IC technology in Malaysia. It has been established under MOSTI and spearhead IC technology in Malaysia for more than 20 years. MIMOS offers Fab process 0.35 micron and specializing wide range of Test reliability equipment for local and international companies.
Writer’s Profiles Prof. Dr. Mohd Amir Abas UniKL BMI Academic Excellent Graduated from University Science Malaysia (USM) in 1984. with Bachelor in Engineering (Electrical/Electronics). Obtained Master of Science (MSc) from Universiti Putra Malaysia in year 2000. Highest qualification with PHD in Microelectronics from University of Newcastle upon Tyne., UK (2003) Subject Specialization Subject specialization is focusing on semiconductors devices which includes semiconductor physic, Electronics transistor application, semiconductor technology, Testing Algorithm and Microcontroller applications.Writer also involves in developing control applications that integrating motor drives, industrial motor installation and etc. Academic Position Currently hold position as Full Professor in Universiti Kuala Lumpur. Actively involves as internal and external examiners for academic programmes and chief editor for Technologists magazine.
Writer with Test Expert Dave Alison