+44 1293 904 001 info@electrontest.com

Burn In Tester: Reliability & Test Equipment

Burn-in testing is the process by which a system detects early failures in semiconductor components (infant mortality), thereby increasing a semiconductor component reliability. This burn in process is a vital testing protocol designed to detect early failures in components and reduce the potential for defects and failures when in use. Normally burn-in tests are performed on electronic devices such as laser diodes with an Automatic Test Equipment laser diode burn-in system that runs the component for an extended period of time to detect problems.

burn-in-testing-laser-diode-military-telecommunication-application

A burn-in system will use cutting-edge technology to test the component and provide precision temperature control, power and optical (if required) measurements to ensure the precision and reliability required for manufacturing, engineering evaluation, and R&D applications. To gather accurate performance data, devices are tested in both controlled environments and enhanced field environments. The use of an environmental chamber allows for precise simulation of various conditions to assess device reliability under different scenarios.

Semiconductor devices rely on quality product and engineers want deliverable products. Burn in testing remains crucial for ensuring product reliability for semiconductor manufacturers and prevents failure rate in the production line. The rated lifetime of integrated circuits is critical for ensuring the reliability and longevity of electronic devices in various applications.

The Process in Burn in Testing

Burn-in test may be conducted to ensure that a device or system functions properly in the production line, or to confirm new semiconductors from the R&D lab are meeting designed operating requirements.

It is best to burn-in at the component level when the cost of testing and replacing parts is lowest. Burn-in of a board or an assembly is difficult because different components have different limits. This improves product reliability in semiconductor devices and this is where Electron Test can help you improve your production line.

It is important to note that burn-in test is usually used to filter out devices that fail during the “infant mortality stage” (beginning of bathtub curve) and does not take into count the “lifetime” or wearout (end of the bath tub curve) – this is where stress tests comes into play. These enhanced stressors and a great way to test in a controlled environment.

Wearout is the natural end-of-life of a component or system related to continuous use as a result of materials interaction with the environment. This regime of failure is of particular concern in denoting the lifetime of the product. It is possible to describe wearout mathematically allowing the concept of reliability and, hence, lifetime prediction.

What Causes Components to Fail During Burn-in Test?

The root cause of fails detected during burn in testing can be identified as dielectric failures, conductor failures, metallization failures, electromigration, etc. These faults are dormant and randomly manifest into device failures during device life-cycle. With burn-in testing, an Automatic Test Equipment (ATE) will stress the device, accelerating these dormant faults to manifest as failures and screen out failures during the infant mortality failure stage.

Burn-in testing detects faults that are generally due to imperfections in the manufacturing process and packaging processes, which are becoming more common with the increasing circuit complexity and aggressive technology scaling. During this process, semiconductor components are subjected to carefully calibrated harsh conditions to gather sufficient data and reduce semiconductor failure rates.

Burn in Testing Parameters

  1. A burn-in test specification varies depending on the device and testing standard (military or telecom standards). It usually requires the electrical and thermal testing of a product, using an expected operating electrical cycle (extreme of operating condition), typically over a time period of a few hours to 168 hours. The thermal temperature of the burn-in test chamber can range from 25°C to 140°C.
  2. Burn in tests are applied to products as they are made, to detect early failures caused by faults in manufacturing processes.
  3. Burn In Fundamentally performs the following:
  4. Stress + Extreme Conditions + Prolong Time = Acceleration of “Normal/Useful life”. The data gathered during these tests is more statistically meaningful data for improving product yield.

Types of Burn in Tests

Static and dynamic burn have both their advantages. Dynamic burn-in testing subjects a device to high stress conditions while it is actively operating. The device is powered on and performs various tasks or runs specific test programs. Static burn-in testing involves subjecting a device to high temperature and/or voltage conditions while it remains in a fixed, non-operational state. The device is powered on, but it is not actively performing any tasks.

Dynamic Burn-in: The device is exposed to high voltage and temperature extremes while being subjected to various input stimuli. This is one type of burn-in test, known as dynamic burn-in.

A burn-in system applies various electrical stimuli to each device while the device is exposed to extreme temperature and voltage. The advantage of dynamic burn-in is its ability to stress more internal circuits, causing additional failure mechanisms to occur. However, dynamic burn-in is limited because it cannot completely simulate what the device would experience during actual use, so all the circuit nodes may not get stressed.

Static Burn-in: Device under test (DUT) is stressed at elevated constant temperature for an extended period of time. This is another type of burn-in test, known as static burn-in.

A burn-in system applies extreme voltage or currents and temperatures to each device without operating or exercising the device. The advantages of static burn-in are its low cost and simplicity.

Simultaneous testing allows for the thorough exercise of multiple components in a condensed short period of time, identifying hardware failures early or after continuous use.

How is a Burn-In Test Performed?

The semiconductor device is placed onto special Burn-in Boards (BiB) while the test is executed inside special (BIC) to replicate an actual field stress environment.

Burn-in testing is often compared to highly accelerated life testing (HALT) and highly accelerated stress screening (HASS). While burn-in testing focuses on reducing premature device failures by replicating real-world conditions, HALT and HASS are designed to identify potential weaknesses in the manufacturing process.

Typical Burn-in Time Durations

Burn-in time refers to the duration for which an electronic device or component is subjected to stress conditions during the burn-in testing process. This time period is critical for identifying early-life failures and ensuring the long-term reliability of the device. Here’s a more detailed explanation of burn-in time:

Burn-in times can vary widely depending on the factors mentioned above. Here are some typical ranges:

  1. Semiconductors and ICs:

    • Typically, burn-in times range from 24 to 168 hours. This can vary based on the criticality of the component and the stress conditions applied. It helps eliminate manufacturing defects and helps prevent defective products.
  2. Consumer Electronics:

    • Devices such as computers, smartphones, and other consumer electronics might undergo burn-in testing for 8 to 48 hours. The exact duration depends on the manufacturer’s quality assurance protocols. Manufacturing defects are often found and test results are recorded in the interface for review by engineers.
  3. High-Reliability Applications:

    • For aerospace, medical, and military applications, burn-in times can extend to several weeks. The exact duration is determined by the stringent reliability requirements of these sectors. These stress tests are required to reduce