Backside emission microscopy on heavily doped substrate materials was analyzed from the viewpoint of optical absorption by the substrate and sample preparation technique. Although it was widely believed that silicon is transparent to infrared (IR) radiation, we demonstrated by using published absorption data that silicon with doping levels above 5 x 1018cm-3 is virtually opaque, leaving only a narrow transmission window around the energy bandgap. Because the transmission depends exponentially on the thickness of die, thinning to below 100µm is shown to be required. Even an advanced IR sensor such as HgCdTe would find little light to detect without thinning the die. For imaging the circuit, an IR laser-based system produced poor images in which the diffraction patterns often ruined the contrast and obscured the image. Hence, a precise, controlled die thinning technique is required both for emission detection and backside imaging. A thinning and polishing technique was briefly described that was believed to be applicable to most ceramic packages. A software technique was employed to solve the image quality problem commonly encountered in backside imaging applications using traditional microscope light source and a scientific grade CCD camera. Finally, we showed the impact of die thickness on imaging circuits on a heavily doped n type substrate.

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