Turning failure into success: how magnetic field cancellation can improve failure analysis

Jul 5, 2022 | Electrical & electronics

Identifying the cause of product malfunction is the goal of failure analysis, and finding errors in electronic equipment requires nanoscale examination. When looking at such small features,extremely high image resolution is crucial, which is why MCS a company specialising in solving customers electronic product issues decided to purchase a new scanning electron microscope (SEM) to improve its imaging capabilities. Suzanne Costello, Chief Operating Officer at MCStalks about how a Spicer SC22 magnetic field cancelling system allowed the company to maximise the performance of its new microscope.

MCS was founded in 1999 to help electronics companies perform failure analysis, using its expertise in material science to resolve customer issues and support product design, manufacturing and qualification. MCS has experience with products ranging from tiny semiconductors to supersized bolts for wind turbines and, although the company is relatively small, its customer base spans the globe, from Silicon Valley in California to Europe and beyond. Suzanneexplained: Our job is to figure out why a product is not working as it should, and discover the root of the error. I liken it to a forensics lab, but instead of looking at cadavers to identify the cause of death, we look at defective products to determine the cause of malfunction. We are mostly interested in changes in the material microstructure that prevent the product from performing in the way our clients expect.

We apply a whole suite of technologies to analyse failures, meaning that we can almost always find a solution to a problem, which is greatly appreciated by our customers. There are several different optical and electronic microscopes in our lab, as well as a Fourier-transform IR spectrometer, allowing us to study organic matter. We constantly seek to update and improve our equipment, and the recent purchase of a new SEM has opened up higher levels of magnification and resolution than was possible on our older microscope.

Not long after purchasing the instrument, we realised that it could not operate athe higher end of its magnification range without losing resolution. To fix this, we purchased the manufacturerrecommended Spicer SC22 Magnetic Field Cancelling System, which mitigated the negative effects of stray magnetic fieldson the electron microscope set-up.

I was amazed by the difference the Spicer system made, and pleasantlysurprised by the painless installation. We even tried switching the SC22 on and off while using the microscope to observe the grainy images becoming perfectly clear as the noise cancellation was activated. In summary, we had a great experience with Spicer, and will definitely be purchasing more of the companyssystems when we next upgrade our electron microscopes.


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