When analyzing the root cause of failure in many of today’s electronic systems, thermal issues stand out as being large contributing factors. Not only are today’s devices becoming more high-powered and complex, they’re doing it with smaller and smaller designs. However, packing large amounts of power into increasingly compact spaces can often put thermal strains on components. To help mitigate this risk and ensure a more reliable product, electronics manufacturers must conduct a thermal-mechanical analysis of their devices. However, given the amount of time and money this testing requires, many companies are looking for ways to speed up the process and make it more effective.
When carrying out reliability testing calculations, there are two popular methods that are frequently chosen: Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) and Physics of Failure (PoF). While both approaches provide answers regarding a product’s predicted reliability, there are several key differences between the two that could have a significant impact on product development. A PoF approach offers several unique advantages over MTBF, but first, here’s a quick overview of how both methods evolved.
Dr. Natalie Hernandez has been a Product Engineer at DfR Solutions since November 2016. Before, she completed her PhD in Physics at Lehigh University and served as a graduate research assistant working on spectroscopic studies of rare-earth doped wide bandgap semiconductor materials, and has since made the jump to electronics reliability engineering. After 7 months in her new role, here are some of the key takeaways she’s learned about the industry.
When compared to the electronic systems in industries like commercial and industrial equipment, today’s avionics systems face several unique challenges. In addition to operating in rugged environments for long periods of time, they must also satisfy rigorous safety and reliability standards. Most importantly, unlike other industries, they must meet these standards while using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) semiconductor devices (logic, memory, etc.) and electronic assemblies that have been designed and qualified for other applications with less rigorous requirements.
As leaders in quality, reliability and durability (QRD) solutions for the electronics industry, we at DfR Solutions are always innovating—as exemplified by the just-released Sherlock Automated Design Analysis™ software Version 5.2 that takes electronics design reliability analysis to the next level.
Emerging technologies are making the electronics industry even more competitive, elevating the importance manufacturers place on product differentiation, reliability and speed to market.
Avionics systems are complex and often interdependent, as demonstrated in an aircraft cockpit that houses control, monitoring, communication, navigation, weather and anti-collision systems. These highly regulated electronics are among the most expensive and standardized products available—considerable investments that are expected to perform for up to 30 years, making the determination of product lifetime reliability a top priority.
The constant demand for smaller, faster, more reliable electronic components continues to drive innovation in component packaging. Component engineers are relentless in their quest for new and better ways to improve BGAs and packaging silicon. Recent advancements include going coreless and multi-chip modules, but silicon technology advances dictate continued improvement in packaging.
Product lifecycle simulation is an effective tool for determining how long electronics in automotive and other applications will perform before failing. However, there are four distinct categories of electronics with disparate levels of lifetime expectations:
Failure is a possibility with any component on any PCB. In many cases wearout is the culprit, leaving engineers to deal with the aftermath of dissecting what went wrong and possibly re-engineering the component to avoid recurrence.