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STI Electronics Skip Navigation Links > Services > Engineering Services > Analytical/Failure Analysis
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STI’s Analytical Laboratory's enhanced capabilities are the result of the recent addition of several new analytical tools and equipment. The analytical equipment includes some of the industry's newest and most advanced tools.

Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
Secondary Electron imaging ideal for surface topography mapping. Applications include fracture surface analysis, integrated circuit surface mapping, Micro Electro-Mechanical (MEM’s) inspection and analysis, surface residue analysis, and external plating analysis.

Backscattered Electron imaging allows for atomic number contrasting and imaging. Applications include solderability analysis, contamination analysis, elemental phase mapping and identification.

The Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) enables visual inspection and both linear and geometric dimensional measurement at very high magnifications. This equipment also has the capability of providing digital imaging of specimens with a magnification up to 50,000 times, or simple exploratory analysis at low magnification for gross failure analysis and identification. Along with very high magnification capability, what distinguishes a SEM’s imaging capability from that of a traditional optical microscope is the very high depth of field, which allows for very detailed and easily interpretable images. This aids in the process of root cause failure analysis and subsequent reporting of failures. Finally, the oversized specimen chamber allows for large samples on the order of 6” x 6” to be analyzed without destructive sample preparation, important for expensive hardware.

Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy
EDS allows for characteristic x-rays emitted from a sample to be identified, allowing the qualitative and quantitative elemental identification on a microscopic scale. In addition, elemental “mapping” can be utilized to produced to create an image detailing both the composition and structure of the different phases of material present. Used in conjunction with SEM imaging, elemental identification provides a very powerful tool in evaluating manufacturing processes, materials selection, residue and corrosion identification and quantification, as well as other failure analysis efforts.

Real Time X-Ray
Real time optical x-ray analysis allows for immediate imaging of specimens. The extra large chamber permits specimens ranging from small micro ball grid arrays to large circuit board assemblies (18” x 21”). Interior defect characterization is possible using the digitally projected x-ray image. As with the scanning electron microscope, high-resolution images can be digitally captured or photo quality images can be printed depending on the requirements of the analysis. Magnification up to 125 times can be accomplished allowing for inspection of features on the scale of individual wire bonds and flip chip ball interfaces.

Optical Ball Grid Array (BGA) Inspection
Inspection of the outermost ball grid array (BGA) spheres allow for reflow characterization and wetting analysis, and when used in conjunction with the real-time x-ray, provide a high level of confidence that the proper profile was used in BGA reflow.


General Testing Capabilities
Wetting Balance and Mechanical Tensile testing capabilities are also tools currently in use, which help physically quantify the characteristics of existing solder connections as well as the solderability of unsoldered or tinned components prior to assembly. These tools provide a valuable assessment of the physical characteristics of components in question.

For cleanliness testing we have in place the long-time industry standard for ionic testing utilizing the "static test" methodology, which is designed to perform cleanliness testing on printed circuit boards and assemblies. Along with subject matter experts in the filed of cleanliness and cleanliness testing, we offer real world experience and consultation for all your manufacturing cleanliness problems.

Full micro sectioning and sample preparation services are performed onsite for expediting failure analysis efforts. Once a failure site is located, micro sectioning is performed and the subsequent analysis will identify the exact failure mechanism and root cause.

In additional to cleanliness & solderability testing, environmental testing capabilities include replicating environments such as High Humidity, Thermal Cycle, and Steam Aging. Coupled with the ability to perform a full range of analysis of samples post-test, these tools allow for rapid “aging” of components and prediction of operational life of hardware.

Not only are environmental and material testing services available. We also offer many electrical test solutions to evaluate component and subassembly problems. A high-speed resistance meter is available for checking continuity, high resistance connections, and insulation problems such as leakage, dielectric failures, etc. at voltages ranging from 5 V to 1000 V. It can also be used to monitor resistances as low as 1 mÙ and capacitances in the range of 10 pF to 100 uF. A data acquisition system may be used for monitoring/data logging highly accurate thermocouple, resistance, and voltage measurements as well as digital I/O testing capability. Also available is a data acquisition/switch unit for monitoring up to 120 measurements simultaneously of thermocouple, resistance, voltage, and frequency / period readings.

Combined with the analytical tools, STI technical staff resources are also expanding. The tremendous experience of the STI staff provides a level of expertise unparalleled throughout the electronics industry.If you have a problem or an issue in the soldering arena, chances are good that we have seen it and addressed it. 

For more information, please contact Marietta Lemieux, Analytical Lab Manager at mlemieux@stielectronicsinc.com or (256) 705-5531.

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261 Palmer Rd.
Madison, AL 35758