Stress voiding is an insidious IC failure mechanism that can be difficult to identify and arrest. It is of particular concern to those who produce and test ICs with aluminum-alloy interconnects or who assess the reliability of legacy devices with long service life. This article explains how stress voids form and grow and how to determine the root cause by amassing physical evidence and ruling out other failure mechanisms. The key to differentiating stress voiding from other types of failures is recognizing that is the result of three distinct physical phenomena, stress, nucleation, and diffusion, all of which must be confirmed before attempting to make process corrections.

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