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Method to characterize chips without touching them

New technique based on thermography enables a fast and contacless characterization of the wireless electronic components of the radiofrequency identification systems, like contactless credit cards and similar.

 

From the obtained thermographic image, the scientists can find out if the chip is working properly, the spent of energy in every part of the system and to draw electrical parameters related to the chips’ performance.Scientists from the CSIC Institute of Microelectronics Barcelona (IMB-CNM) have developed a technique based on thermography that applies modulation techniques in frequency and lock-in detection. This enables the characterization and study of the subcircuits that form the wireless systems without contact. Through the temperature measurement, the method enables to analyse the chip’s performance and its spent of energy. In other words, from the obtained thermographic image, the scientists can find out if the chip is working properly,  the  spent of energy in every part of the system and, from this, scientists can draw electrical parameters related to the chips’ performance.

This technique can be easily implemented in most of the thermographic systems based on cameras (it is not restricted to Infrared measurements) and can be employed in quality control during the production of wireless electronic parts of more complex systems. Among its advantages, the following ones can be highlighted: non-invasive and non-contact approach,  functional characterization under operating conditions, and capable of analysing system blocks alone or under interaction among them.

There are four patents related to this technology, which meet the different demands of the companies

In short, this method can be used to assess the proper functioning of the components that should be part of radio frequency identification devices, such as car keys, animal identification plates, labels identifying or payment cards "contactless" access control to buildings, track books in libraries, airports baggage and cargo and trucks, accreditation of personnel, among others. Notably strong industrial impact can be expected about this technique, as it has been derived from an internal collaboration between researchers from IMB-CNM in the framework of the RICH project (Antonio Baldi and Jordi Sacristan) to analyze and read wirelessly powered RFID devices. As a result, the method developed has allowed us to understand how their blocks interact under operation and analyze their consumption. This work has been accepted to be published in the journal "IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics" (10.1109 / TIE.2015.2455024).

This work has been carried out within the framework of an ongoing doctoral thesis performed by Javier León, within the research projects Consolider RUE and Trench-SiC (both the national R & D programmes) and co-directed by the scientists Xavier Perpiñà and Miquel Vellvehi. This thesis aims at answering to the different needs in the local characterization of electronic and semiconductor integrated chips. The idea is to combine temperature measurement and the ability to make it through an infrared camera. This allows access to internal nodes or points of the studied microelectronic system through the surface of the chip, which until now could not be carried out. This approach opens up a new field of characterization based on gathering modulation techniques applied to the infrared emission of hot spots and its detection by the lock-in method.

There are four patents related to this techonlogy, which meet the different demands of the companies.

 

Contact:
Isabel Gavilanes-Pérez
Deputy Vice-Presidency
for Knowledge Transfer, CSIC.
Tel.: +34 – 93 594 77 00
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