A new scanning microscope developed at Brown University can uncover defects in the smallest and most complex integrated circuits at a resolution 1,000 times greater than current technology. The scanner removes a barrier to further shrinking of integrated circuits: As circuits get smaller, non-visual defects become harder to find.
Micro mouse bite
A current-density image, taken with a Circuit Scan 1000 high-resolution magnetic microscope, reveals a tiny flaw in one of two 0.25-micron metal wires in an integrated circuit chip. Further magnification (detail) shows the right-hand wire has a “mouse bite” along one of its edges, where the electrical current shows up as a tiny hot spot
“This microscope will allow manufacturers to find defects in each embedded wire in ever-tinier circuits,” said Brown University professor Gang Xiao. He developed the instrument’s hardware and software with Ben Schrag, who will receive his Ph.D. at Brown this month.
The microscope’s magnetic-scanning technology suggests a new small, non-invasive form of remote detection, said the researchers, who envision a “pass-over and detect” magnetic-sensor-tipped pen, for use in finding internal cracks within aircraft, sensing biological agents in the environment or body, or recognizing counterfeit bills or other objects.
Scott Turner | Brown University
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