The tools of the trade in semiconductor failure analysis have advanced rapidly over the past few decades, bringing major improvements in imaging, deprocessing, and materials analysis. In contrast to the progress made in physical FA, little attention has been given to the failure analysis process itself. This article shows through case studies how simple oversights and misunderstandings can lead to costly mistakes. It also defines basic FA concepts and presents a failure analysis sequence, describing each step along with common pitfalls and best practices.

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