Created: 10/24/95 Updated: 4/18/97

Project Number: C96-25

Failure of Plastic Encapsulated Microelectronics at Low Temperature

Point of Contact:  Dr. Pat McCluskey
Phone: (301) 405-5323
Fax: (301) 314-9269
Objective Background Approach Work Accomplished


Characterize the effects that limit the use of plastic encapsulated microelectronics (PEMs) at low temperatures to -65° C, and identify potential failure mechanisms. Characterize delamination and cracking of PEMs in low temperature applications.


Recently attention has focused on the use of electronics at highly elevated temperatures. This is a result of the potential benefits to be gained from the development of distributed control systems, smart sensors, and remote actuators, which can operate in high temperature environments. To address this issue, a report was generated this past year describing the generic materials-related limitations to the use of electronics at elevated temperatures up to 200° C.

Current systems requiring operation at -40° C and lower, usually use military grade, hermetically sealed ceramic packaged microelectronic circuits. However, the limited availability of these devices has prompted military and aerospace product developers to consider commercial or industrial grade PEMs for these applications. Advantages to be gained from switching to PEMs include small size, light weight, and low part cost. However, their reliability at low temperature has not been well characterized. In particular, delamination and cracking of the PEMs at low temperatures could lead to wire breakage as well as corrosion during subsequent high temperature exposure.


A design of experiments study will be conducted to determine the effect of cold temperature operation on delamination and cracking in representative PEMs. Packages will be examined before and after low temperature exposure with C-SAM. The effect of key operating parameters including but not limited to moisture level, minimum temperature, temperature ramp rate, and package geometry will be studied.

The materials-related limitations to the use of PEMs at temperatures as low as -65° C will be determined. Potential failure mechanisms will be identified.

Work Accomplished