moisture failure

Detecting Moisture Failures
in Sealed Electronic Devices

Moisture is a pervasive and existential threat to the performance of all microelectronic products.  It can undermine the efficiency and dependability of mission-critical devices in your customers’ systems. In hermetically sealed microelectronic devices, the presence of any moisture, whether evolved from package materials or due to leakage – no matter how small – can cause components to fail. Failure mechanisms include corrosion, fogging of optical components, electrical instability, stiction in MEMs and the promotion of dendritic growth leading to electrical shorts.

ORS has developed a range of advanced hermetic seal testing methods and instrumentation to detect the presence of moisture and/or leakage of outside air into devices to ensure your microelectronics are safeguarded from the harm moisture can cause.

Internal Vapor Analysis

At ORS, we use internal vapor analysis (IVA®) testing to determine the identities and quantities of gas within microelectronic components. Some refer to this as residual gas analysis (RGA) testing or internal water vapor content (IWVC) testing. Our engineers have refined the internal vapor analysis process, establishing the industry’s most precise and reliable test methodology for internal moisture concentrations and hermetic seal integrity.

IVA® tests involve quantitatively measuring all primary and trace gases within hermetic components. IVA® testing focuses on seal quality control and control of outgassing from package piece parts and other materials such as adhesives and coatings used within the sealed enclosure.

When you rely on ORS for IVA® testing, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re working with industry experts and a world leader for package hermiticity and gas analysis testing. ORS conducts IVA® testing in accordance with Military Standard Test Method Specifications and has developed advanced volatiles testing methods for evaluating package materials, along with leak-rate methodology and equipment with detection limits exceeding the requirements currently in military standards.

We’re able to identify gaseous species within your microelectronic packaging. Whether you’re assessing current product performance, testing new products before market release or qualifying product shipments for conformance to a specification, you’ll have absolute confidence that entrapped water vapor or hermetic leaks won’t impair your development progress, require costly replacements or cause irreparable system damage.

ORS has pioneered internal gas analysis testing across many industries, including electrical components, pharmaceuticals, product packaging, telecommunications, food and medical devices. Alongside standard IVA®, ORS also offers the capability for high-resolution internal vapor analysis (HR-IVA®) testing, addressing the difficulties of measuring volatiles within increasingly smaller-volume (nanoliters) microelectronic packages.

If you want to equip your in-house analytical laboratory or testing installations with internal vapor analysis or hermeticity test instrumentation to support daily manufacturing and quality control operations, ORS offers an array of equipment for purchase.  

Our team has suitability status from the federal government’s DLA Land and Maritime group for qualifying military devices according to Mil-Std-883 test method 1018 and Mil-Std-750 test method 1018. For commercial applications, we conduct the test per our Commercial Practice Test Method MEL-1053.

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    Read our technical paper, Why Be Concerned about Moisture?

    Hermetic Package Testing

    Ingress of moisture into any hermetically sealed enclosure can cause device errors or – especially in devices with high-reliability medical or military/aerospace applications – catastrophic failure. The crucial nature of this testing has driven us to perfect several different primary hermetic test approaches to defend against moisture and contaminants that can jeopardize a sealed system.

    • HSHLD® Testing: ORS developed the high sensitivity helium leak detection (HSHLD®) method to simultaneously measure helium and oxygen levels to determine fine and gross leaks in one simplified, yet comprehensive test. HSHLD® is a dry gross and fine method sensitive to 1 x 10-12 atm cc/sec, with cycle times of less than 2 minutes. It can measure leak rates of devices with internal free volumes as small as 0.001cc.
    • Krypton-85 Testing: A radioactive isotope method that determines fine and gross leak rates in a high-reliability device, that’s often used in critical military components, commercial sensors, and similar applications. The Krypton-85 method offers extremely fast test times, overall reduced costs and testing in ambient conditions. It’s also able to find thermally induced or pressure-induced hermetic failures.
    • Standard Helium Testing: Employs helium to verify the fine leak seal integrity of any hermetic device. Custom leak test plans are available upon request.

    ORS performs seal testing per Mil-Std 883 test method 1014, Mil-Std 750 test method 1071, and Mil-Std 202 test method 112, as well as any other specific or unique requirements you may have. We also perform tests per Telcordia GR1221-CORE and GR-468-CORE for passive and active devices.

    Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry

    A natural complement to the IVA® test, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) unites two techniques to identify unknown organic compounds which may have been detected during standard IVA® testing.  ORS’ proprietary instrument design combines the separative features of gas-chromatography with the identification capabilities of mass spectrometry. This allows unprecedented speed, accuracy and an ability to handle a range of package or sample sizes and complexities. 

    GC/MS can be used to identify residual cleaning solvents, epoxy curing problems, solder flux residue, contamination, and additional breakdown or degradation byproducts with ppb-level sensitivity on devices with cavity sizes as small as <0.00001cc.  Results can be used alone or in combination with standard IVA® testing to determine if ongoing or propagated chemical reactions, corrosion or chemical deposition could affect long-term device reliability. 

    ORS offers GC/MS testing to serve companies in a variety of industries with analytical applications focusing on contamination identification, purity determination, outgassing studies, and identification of volatile and semi-volatile substances. Test results are qualitative for compound identification and semi-quantitative for concentration and are customizable to your specific analysis needs. Contact ORS to discuss your GC/MS testing needs. 

    Ready to try out ORS’ industry-leading volatiles control and leak integrity testing services? Fill out the form above and one of our expert engineers will be in touch. 

    Alternatively, if you require instrumentation to perform on-site testing, please see our line of IVA®, HR-IVA® and HSHLD® instrumentation.

    Find out about doing your own leak-rate testing in-house.