Semiconductor & electronics manufacturing

Smaller electronic devices. More powerful processors. More complex microstructures. All of these trends have driven technological development and social change. And all make electronic components increasingly difficult to inspect. As current X-ray inspection systems reach their limits, Excillum X-ray sources are opening new windows into microscopic features and defects that, until now, have been hard to inspect.

Some say that Moore’s law, which says that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years, has reached its limit. That the size and complexity of today’s surface mount technologies (SMT) makes continued exponential performance gains unlikely, but the technology drivers continue along this path, with transistors becoming ever smaller.

Excillum X-ray sources allow manufacturers to push beyond the limits of even today’s most state-of-the art X-ray techniques. Combined with other leading-edge components, Excillum X-ray sources have the power, imaging speed and resolution to produce the superior systems needed to inspect future generations of smaller, faster and more powerful electronic assemblies. The result is an entirely new standard in X-ray inspection for complex SMT, semiconductor and advanced packaging.

Excillum-semiconductors-electronics-xrays 2

Extreme resolution nanoCT X-ray investigation of 3D memory (HBM2)

Watch video of 3D X-ray with NanoTube N3 for advanced packaging.

High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) micro bumps are used in advanced packaging in order to accommodate extremely fast data transfer between a GPU and HBM. The HBMs are stacked on top of each other close to the GPU and connected with Through Silicon Vias (TSV) and small (~20 µm) micro bumps. The process is expensive and each package has high value. It is therefore of high interest to be able to measure and detect e.g. alignment and shift of TSVs or shape and defects (voids, cracks, non-wetting, bulge missing bumps etc)  in the micro bumps. As an illustrative example a commercial GPU with HBM was analysed using the Excillum NanoTube N3 X-ray source in a nanoCT setup.

3D render of reconstructed volume.

Slice through volume showing all layers.

2D vertical cut of HBMs with TSVs and an extreme zoom-in on one of the micro bumps.

2D horizontal cut of micro bumps illustrating cracks and voids of different sizes. 

NanoCT investigation of SD card

With its small spot size, the NanoTube is ideal to study the ever-shrinking structures of electronics. This example, done with predecessors of our current NanoTube N3 series, shows a tomographic slice from a nanoCT of an SD-card, performed with the NanoTube N1 60 kV (top image) and the NanoTube N2 60 kV (bottom image) – achieving a voxel sampling of 200nm.
The comparative nanoCT measurement was done by keeping a similar level of photon counts. The NanoTube N2 60 kV achieves an increase in flux by more than 3 times and, thus, the measurement time was reduced from 15 hours to 4 hours. At the same time, the signal-to-noise ratio gave even higher image quality, due to the reduced motion within the CT measurement.

A 3D rendering of the above mentioned SD card, showing the full reconstruction of the internal features and structures. Voxel sampling 200 nm.

High resolution 2D electronics inspection of A15 system on a chip (SoC)

2D X-ray inspection of cell phone A15 SoC. In this study, a commercial 2D inspection system was used where the normal standard X-ray source was replaced by an Excillum NanoTube N3 X-ray source. The small and well-defined spot size makes it possible to create crystal clear images also of very small features. In addition, the fast and accurate switching between spot sizes enables the possibility to look at both large field of view as well as detailed zoom-ins.


Side view of chip corner with zoom-in of 20 µm bond wire.

High resolution X-ray microscopy of Cu interconnects through X-ray optics

By applying X-ray optics it is possible to reach the best resolution. The setup involves condenser optic to increase the X-ray intensity on the sample then a zone plate or a laue lens projects the sample image on the detector. The X-ray optic is designed for a specific wavelength and using Gallium kalfa at energy of 9 keV which sits right above the absorption edge of Copper improves contrast on the smallest Cu features and enables resolution below 50 nm.

Schematic view of XRM setup.

Ga gives excellent Si/Cu contrast

MetalJet D2+ installed in Zeiss Xradia Ultra.
Image courtesy of Carsten Gundlach of Imaging at DTU, Denmark.

X-ray tomography of a 90 nm Cu process
(18x7 stitched overlapping tomographies)

X-ray micrograph of one of the reconstructed layers. Zoom in provides detailed information of the Cu interconnects. Note that X-ray tomograhy provides 3D information on all layers. This illustrates a 2D representation of one layer.


NanoCT for non-destructive testing and research
Increasing throughput and resolution of industrial X-ray inspection


MetalJet and NanoTube for X-ray imaging applications

Why Excillum?

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Recommended products for semiconductor & electronics manufacturing

NanoTube N3

MetalJet E1+

Related X-ray method


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