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Failure analysis

Failure analysis is the process of collecting and analyzing data to determine the cause of a failure and how to prevent it from recurring. It is an important discipline in many branches of manufacturing industry, such as the electronics industry, where it is a vital tool used in the development of new products and for the improvement of existing products.

The main principle of failure analysis is a forensic inquiry into the process or product upon the failure. Such inquiry can be conducted using scientific analytical methods such as electrical and mechanical measurements, or through speculative approach when the data is not available but an action has to be taken. A good example of a speculative approach is analysis of an aircraft crashes where the evidence has been mostly destroyed but all parties are expecting corrective action. In such cases, one or more of the most viable theories are being implemented until an additional data is available. Of course even in the speculative approach the principles of scientific analysis are being applied to the extent possible by the existing clues and pieces of information, and only the missing information is supplemented by speculative approach in order to form a working model or hypothesis.

Another interesting aspect of failure analysis is associated with No Fault Found (NFF) which is a term used in the field of failure analysis to describe a situation where an originally reported mode of failure can't be duplicated by the evaluating technician and therefore the potential defect can't be fixed.

NFF can be attributed to oxidation, defective connections of electrical components, temporary shorts or opens in the circuits, software bugs, temporary environmental factors, but also to the operator error. Large number of devices that are reported as NFF during the first troubleshooting session often return to the failure analysis lab with the same NFF symptoms or a permanent mode of failure.

The term Failure analysis also applies to other fields such as business management and military strategy.



Semiconductor Failure Analysis

The failure analysis of semiconductor devices involves the use of the following tools and techniques:


Sample Preparation

Spectroscopic Analysis

Device Modification

Analysis==== ====Electrical * réflectomètre de Temps-domaine (TDR)

Surface Analysis

Scanning Electron Microscopy

Laser Signal Injection Microscopy (LSIM)

Semiconductor Probing

Software Based Fault Location Techniques

See also


Failure analysis of integrated circuits
A review of failure analysis
Subject reference
Reference to the terminology
Article on the subject at IEEE archive


  • Martin, Perry L., Electronic Failure Analysis Handbook, McGraw-Hill Professional; 1st edition (February 28, 1999) ISBN 0-07-041044-5.
  • Microelectronics Failure Analysis, ASM International; Fifth Edition (2004) ISBN 0-87170-804-3
  • Article from MATERIALS WORLD Journal discussing the various sample preparation disciplines that allow for failure analysis of electronic materials and components
  • Article discussing Liquid Crystal Hot-spot detection techniques
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Failure_analysis". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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