Fluorescent microthermal imaging (FMI) involves coating a sample surface with a thin fluorescent film that, upon exposure to UV light source, emits temperature-dependent fluorescence [1-7]. The principle behind FMI was thoroughly reviewed at the ISTFA in 1994 [8, 9]. In two recent publications [10,11], we identified several factors in film preparation and data processing that dramatically improved the thermal resolution and sensitivity of FMI. These factors include signal averaging, the use of base mixture films, film stabilization and film curing. These findings significantly enhance the capability of FMI as a failure analysis tool. In this paper, we show several examples that use FMI to quickly localize heat-generating defects ("hot spots"). When used with other failure analysis techniques such as focused ion beam (FIB) cross sectioning and scanning electron microscope (SEM) imaging, we demonstrate that FMI is a powerful tool to efficiently identify the root cause of failures in complex ICs. In addition to defect localization, we use a failing IC to determine the sensitivity of FMI (i.e., the lowest power that can be detected) in an ideal situation where the defects are very localized and near the surface.

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