As more micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) are going into volume production, unique challenges are being presented to the failure analyst. Although traditional electrical components have always had some degree of non-electrical concerns (e.g., chemical contamination, mechanical bond failure), MEMS components, which generally sense non-electrical signals, by their nature require more emphasis on their physical properties. This paper will discuss new applications of existing techniques, notably high resolution infrared and visible laser scanning microscopy to examine and obtain topological (3 axis) information of a silicon encapsulated micromachined accelerometer, both prior to and following decapsulation. The utilization of low intrusion electrical measurement instruments are discussed. A technique for removing a single polysilicon plate with minimal disturbance to an underlying polysilicon plate spaced less than a few microns apart is presented.

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