Integrated Circuit Decapsulation – Opening the Integrated Circuitry

Integrated Circuits function as discrete units along with a final assembly consists of lots of diverse forms of ICs placed collectively. Every single is often sourced separately and manufactured elsewhere. This really is one of several factors they have to be packaged into individual segments with all the IC components sitting safely inside. The ICs also really delicate and have to be protected which is another explanation why they may be sealed off in the outdoors world.

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Failure Evaluation of such ICs wants physical access to packaged elements which isn’t probable as long as they are inside their protective casing. Hence, on the list of very first actions although performing the actual evaluation will be to extricate the circuits of interest from their outer covering. This procedure is known as Integrated Circuit Decapsulation.

Cracking the IC Package

Although we choose to utilize failure evaluation techniques which maintain the complete structure in tact with non-destructive testing procedures, in some cases there is no receiving around it. There are lots of approaches to open up chips for inspection and based on the kind of encapsulation, the type of analysis we want to perform and which element we require to analyze.

Three prevalent ways for an integrated circuit to become decapsulated are: chemical etching, heating, and plasma etching. Chemical etching requires applying an acidic substance to the case to consume it away. As can be guessed, this is a delicate procedure which requires incredibly careful application on the corrosive material. Either heated nitric or sulphuric acid is often applied for this objective.

Variations exist inside the approaches of applying the acid. We’ve manual and jet etching with all the latter becoming an automated way of applying the acid. Jet etching demands only a little location in the surface to be exposed leaving the rest safely covered.

But acid is not generally acceptable due to the fact its destructive prospective can hamper the detection of trace components which may be helpful for the analysis. In which case, we are able to also use heat along with mechanical anxiety to pry open the casing and preserve the internal integrity of the die.

Lastly, we’ve got plasma etching. Plasma can be a specialized state of matter consisting of ionized particles at a high temperature. Even though pricey, the procedure is quite precise – generating the plasma react together with the plastic and then draining it away. This fine control also makes the entire method take longer.

Every single method has its added benefits plus the failure analysis engineers are going to be the ones to ascertain the very best approach to go regarding the decapsulation.


Though non-destructive testing methods is usually utilized in failure analysis you will find methods to open up a chip so that it may be properly inspected. They are chemical etching, heating and plasma etching. Every single of these methods has its advantages and the failure analysis engineers will be the ones to identify which process would be the greatest to carry out the decapsulation.

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Thomas Paquette would be the founder and president of Insight Analytical Labs, an electrical engineering firm supplying electronic failure evaluation to the semiconductor and printed circuit board (PCB) industries. Tom is an expert at assessing new integrated circuit (IC) technologies, implementing failure evaluation options, improving board-level reliability and supporting IC development efforts.

Shenzhen Zhengxin Electronics Co., Ltd