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Cleanliness Testing

Contamination from ions such as chloride, bromide, sodium, and organic acids has been shown to cause failures in electronic devices. Ionic residues can cause corrosion, metal migration, and electrical leakage. Failures caused by these residues may be hard or soft failures, and can occur several months after the product has been manufactured and shipped to customers. Upon re-testing the returned product, the failures can be intermittent or not found, making troubleshooting the device for a root cause of the failure difficult.

Contaminants from Processes, Environment

The manufacture of electronic devices is typically a series of chemical and mechanical operations that involve plating, masking, soldering, rinsing, etching, and cleaning. Each operations, along with the environment in which they occur, has some effect on the device or assembly. The processes and manufacturing environment leave chemical fingerprints on the devices that are unique to the manufacturing process. In the same way that a forensic scientist would use fingerprints to trace a criminal, analytical techniques can be used to troubleshoot a manufacturing process or field failure to understand and correct the root cause. Ionic contamination can also be found on materials that come in contact with electrical devices during manufacture, e.g. gloves. These manufacturing consumables can transfer contamination to the product and can therefore require examination for contamination as well.

Types of Ionic Contamination

Potentially corrosive ions found on printed circuit boards and electronic devices include:

  • Bromide (found in solder masks)
  • Sulfate (found in materials such as oils and release agents)
  • Chloride (found in fluxes)
  • Organic acids such as adipic or succinic acid (found in fluxes)

Typically, if the concentration of corrosive ions on a particular assembly is high, the risk of electrochemical failure is greater. The ICS-2100 and ICS-5000 are uniquely designed to provide the data you need to monitor ionic contamination on electronic devices.