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Detection of Cracked Multi-Layer Ceramic

Capacitors on Printed Circuit Board Assemblies

Michael H. Azarian, Ph. D.

IMAPS Chesapeake Chapter Summer Technical Symposium

July 23, 2014

Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 1 University of Maryland
Copyright © 2014 CALCE

Flex Cracks in Multi-Layer Ceramic
Capacitors (MLCCs)
Ceramic dielectric Electrode Flex crack Capacitor
termination

Solder joint
Printed circuit
board Solder pad

Flex crack

250 mm

Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 2 University of Maryland
Copyright © 2014 CALCE

– multilayer construction of the MLCC and the board. – interference by electrical and mechanical elements of the PCB circuitry. – curved end terminations. and cause open or short circuits. • Cracked capacitors can affect circuit performance. due to: – their small size. and – the inability to apply large voltages or mechanical stresses. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 3 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE . and even fires. – minimal change in electrical performance if cracks are small. • Cracked MLCCs are difficult to detect non-destructively after assembly. Background • MLCCs are susceptible to cracking due to board flexure or thermal stress.

g. – methanol testing. – electrical parameter measurements (e. – impedance spectroscopy. – 2D and 3D X-Ray imaging. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 4 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE . IR). Crack Detection in Assembled MLCCs • Conventional detection methods: – acoustic microscopy. C. • Electrical measurements in the time domain allow localization of discontinuities within the circuit. Probing close to the MLCC with high frequency signals reduces or eliminates interference from other elements of the circuit..

Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) • In the reflection mode a short pulse is sent along a conductor. • The reflection coefficient Γ is defined as the ratio of the reflected and the incident voltage: Vreflected Z L  Z0 Z0: Characteristic impedance of the   circuit Z L  Z0 ZL: Impedance of the device under Vincident test • Based on the reflection coefficient the nature of the impedance can be determined. • In the time domain. measured discontinuities can be related to locations in the circuit. capacitive. Any impedance discontinuity (resistive. which can be detected at the output/input terminal. inductive) within the circuit causes a reflection of the original pulse. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 5 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE .

0805 test board 1812 test board Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 6 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE . • Each capacitor was interconnected to test points and no other passive components. 1812 and 0805 MLCC Test Boards • The feasibility of TDR testing on MLCCs was examined. which resulted in flex cracking of varying numbers of capacitors. • 1812 and 0805 MLCCs on special test boards were tested. • The test boards were subjected to 4-point bending.

TDR Measurements TDR probe Test specimen Probe head Signal and ground pin probing top of MLCC end terminations • The pitch of the TDR pins limits the measurements to MLCCs with a length of at least 1 mm. • This probe can only be brought into contact with the top of the end terminations due to the construction of the probe head. • The contact between the pins and the irregular end termination surface is not optimal and induces additional reflections. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 7 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE .

TDR Setup • A frequency domain response is measured by the VNA. capacitive. Equipment used for TDR: Agilent E8364A Vector Network Analyzer TDR/VNA Settings: Start-/Stop-frequency: 60 Mhz-6GHz Transform Mode: Lowpass step mode Probe: Agilent N1020A TDR probe Probe pitch: 1.5 to 5. inductive) and identifies short and open circuits. • Low-pass mode was chosen since it provides information regarding the type of impedance (resistive. which mathematically calculates a time domain transform of the data.0 mm Bandwidth: DC to 6 GHz Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 8 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE .

8 -1 -1.4 -0.2 Healthy 1812 MLCC on test board 0 Reflection Coefficient [U] -0.2 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 Time [nsec] • Healthy MLCCs present themselves in the same way as a short (negative unity reflection) • Cracked MLCC are clearly distinguishable from healthy MLCCs in shape of the characteristic reflection coefficient and increased reflection coefficient.2 Cracked 1812 MLCC on test board -0. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 9 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE .6 -0. Reflection Coefficients of Healthy and Cracked 1812 MLCCs on Test Boards 0.

• Cracks in 1812 MLCCs were easy to identify compared to smaller MLCCs. X-Ray Characterization of Cracks in 1812 MLCCs Drops of solder on board Crack is easy to Clear separation All 1812 MLCCs identified between ceramic identify as cracked using TDR body and end terminal • All MLCCs were examined with X-ray to confirm the presence of cracks. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 10 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE .

13 Not measurable C14 Yes 19. Characterization of 1812 Crack Sizes with Respect to Detectability Using TDR List of cracked Correct Capacitance [nF] Insulation 1812 MLCCs Identification Resistance [Ohm] C13 Yes 15. • All 23 cracked and 4 healthy 1812 MLCCs were correctly identified with TDR.15 Not measurable Healthy 1812 MLCCs 100±10 1E+11 • Capacitance for all cracked MLCCs showed a large decrease to about 20 nF.07 Not measurable C16 Yes 27. • IR was not measurable in some cases. This suggests that the flex cracking resulted in separation of all electrodes from the affected end terminal. showing the capability of TDR as a suitable method to identify cracks in MLCCs.20 Not measurable C15 Yes 21.23 7.12E+12 C20 Yes 16. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 11 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE .

Cross-Sectional Analysis of Cracks in 1812 MLCCs Cracks running through all electrodes All cracked 1812 MLCCs were identified as cracked using TDR • Two cracked 1812 MLCCs were cross-sectioned. of which both were identified as cracked with TDR. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 12 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE . • Both MLCCs identified as cracked showed complete propagation of the crack through all electrodes in a vertical orientation.

X-Ray Characterization of Cracks in 0805 MLCCs Hardly Clearly visible crack visible crack MLCC identified as cracked MLCC identified as healthy using TDR using TDR • All MLCCs were examined with X-ray to confirm the presence of cracks. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 13 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE . • Based on the X-ray examination it is hard to assess the influence of cracking on the TDR performance for smaller sized MLCCs.

Capacitance serves as one indicator of crack severity in MLCCs.36E+09 C9 No 76. Characterization of 0805 Crack Sizes with Respect to Detectability Using TDR List of cracked Correct Capacitance [nF] Insulation 0805 MLCCs Identification Resistance [Ohm] C3 No 44.67E+08 C14 Yes 0.31E+09 Healthy 0805 MLCCs 100±10 1E+11 • Unidentified cracked MLCCs tended to have larger capacitance values. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 14 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE .36E+09 C19 Yes 4. but no trend with respect to detectability was observable. • Cracked 0805 MLCCs showed smaller insulation resistance on the order of 108 or 109 Ohms.42 2.89 7.28E+08 C20 No -6.82E+09 C18 Yes 0.91 1.51 8. closer to their original value of 100 ±10 nF. while the ones which were identified tended to have very small capacitance.55 7.17E+08 C16 No 26.22 6.80 6.35E9 3.25E+09 C15 Yes 12.23 1.00E+08 C13 Yes 28.

of which two were identified with TDR and the other two were not. Cross-Sectional Analysis of Cracks in 0805 MLCCs Crack Non-cracked running section through all providing electrodes electrical contact in case of partial cracking of electrodes 0805 MLCC identified as 0805 MLCC identified as cracked using TDR healthy using TDR • Four cracked 0805 MLCCs were examined. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 15 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE . • Both MLCCs identified as healthy showed only partial penetration of the crack through electrodes. The non-cracked electrodes provided a low impedance path for the signal.

• 4 out of 9 cracked 0805 MLCCs showed no differences in their response compared to healthy MLCCs. which might be related to larger crack sizes in bigger MLCCs. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 16 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE . Summary of TDR Measurements on Test Boards Number Number of Type 1 error Type 2 error correctly identified (false positive) (false negative) Healthy 1812 4 4 0 0 Cracked 1812 23 23 0 0 Healthy 0805 15 15 0 0 Cracked 0805 9 5 0 4 • Cracked 1812 MLCCs showed no errors in identification.

TDR was performed on 4 different types of PCB assemblies extracted from consumer products. PCB Assemblies from Commercial Products • After the initial TDR measurements on the test boards. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 17 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE . • Two identical specimens of each PCB assembly were obtained. which were analyzed using X-ray imaging prior to the experiments. • The extracted PCB assemblies contained MLCCs of different commonly available sizes. whereas the other one was subjected to flexing and thermal stressing in order to introduce cracks. One of them served as a reference with healthy MLCCs.

• In the cases where flex cracking was not feasible. Generation and Verification of Cracks in MLCCs on PCB Assemblies • Introducing flex cracks is preferable for the experiments. • X-ray imaging was used to verify the presence of cracks in the capacitors. the MLCCs were thermally shocked to create cracks. size and orientation of the MLCCs as well as the population of the PCB assemblies. but is not feasible in every case due to the position. Crack in 1812 MLCC on test board Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 18 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE .

11 1. construction or dielectric composition. Characterization of MLCCs PCB Number of Measured Measured Classification Assembly MLCCs length [mm] width [mm] 0805 Test 24 2.32 0805 board 1812 Test 24 4.07 1.62 1206 board Ethernet 4 4.55 1206 Zip drive 4 3. no datasheets were available for reference regarding their performance.59 1. 8 3.88 - card Mother. • Thus.01 1. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 19 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE .50 3.01 1.20 1812 board Sound card 4 3.58 1206 board • The manufacturer of the MLCCs on the commercial boards was unknown.

X-Ray Images of Cracks Introduced Flex crack in 0805 MLCC on test board Solder joint crack in MLCC on sound card Thermal crack on MLCC on Ethernet card Flex cracks in MLCCs on Zip drive boards Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 20 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE .

Observations Regarding Crack Types • Introducing flex cracks in small MLCCs proved to be difficult and resulted in most cases in separation of the end termination from the solder pad instead of cracking. Separation of end termination from solder which might affect their pad of MLCCs on Motherboard detectability with TDR. • Some of the cracks did not penetrate the electrodes. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 21 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE .

• TDR was the only electrical test used. since the MLCCs were interconnected to other components. Ethernet board) thermal and flex cracks were created with different severities in four MLCCs of two different sizes. which interferes with capacitance and insulation resistance measurements. Flex cracks in Zip drive board Thermal crack in Ethernet board Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 22 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE . TDR Measurements on PCB Assemblies • On two different PCB assemblies (Zip drive.

sound card) resulted in separation of the MLCCs from the board without any cracks penetrating the electrodes. • The capability of TDR to detect these failures was also examined. TDR Measurements on PCB Assemblies • Bending on two other PCB Assemblies (motherboard. Cracks in solder joints on motherboard Cracks in solder joints on sound card Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 23 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE .

2 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 Time [nsec] • This cracked 1206 MLCC showed a clear distinction from the healthy MLCC.2 Healthy 1206 MLCC on Zipboard -0. which are not shown here. showed no difference in the reflection coefficient.2 0 Reflection Coefficient [U] Cracked 1206 MLCC on Zipdrive -0.6 -0.4 -0.8 -1 -1. • The other pair of healthy and cracked 1206 MLCCs on the same board location. Reflection Coefficient of 1206 MLCCs on Zip drive PCB Assembly 0. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 24 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE .

• 3 out of 4 MLCCs which showed cracking in the ceramic body showed the characteristics of cracked MLCCs. Summary of TDR Measurements on PCB Assemblies Crack type Number Number of Type 1 error Type 2 error of correctly (false (false cracked identified positive) negative) MLCCs Ethernet Thermal 2 2 0 0 adapter shock crack Zip drive Flex crack 2 1 0 1 Motherboard Solder joint 4 0 0 4 crack Sound card Solder joint 4 0 0 4 crack • MLCCs where the crack occurred in the solder joints were not correctly identified. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 25 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE . since no discontinuity in the signal path was present.

• No cracks were identified in the case of solder joint cracks or where non-cracked electrodes were still present due to partial cracking. • Cross-sectional analysis suggests that in cases where cracks penetrated the electrodes entirely. which increase the reflection coefficient. • Contrary to flex cracks. the thermally cracked MLCC showed a decrease. TDR was able to identify them. This might be caused by shorted electrodes due to the cracks and therefore a lower impedance. Discussion • Flex cracking resulted in some cases in partial separation of the electrodes from the end terminations. • TDR was capable of identifying cracks also on PCB assemblies. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 26 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE . where the cracks penetrated the entire electrodes.

• Further research is necessary to understand the relationship between the characteristics of the cracks and the reflection coefficient response. Conclusions • The results show that TDR is the first non-destructive. Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering 27 University of Maryland Copyright © 2014 CALCE . rather than a limitation the TDR technique: ability to probe at the base of the end terminations near the solder joints would increase the sensitivity to a wider range of MLCC sizes and crack types and sizes. electrical characterization technique that is able to identify interconnected cracked MLCCs on PCB assemblies. • The cross-sectional analysis indicates that non-detection of MLCCs where partial cracking of the electrodes occurred is primarily due to the available probing capabilities.