The decapsulation process in today’s failure analysis labs can become complicated with the smaller size of the package and the surface mount methods of attachment. Some failure modes recover when a part is removed from the application and remounted after decapsulation, and some parts are simply too fragile to handle for re-mounting after decapsulation. Decapsulating the failing device in-situ (on the board or DIP adapter) allows us to analyze the part in its original mounting condition, without exposing it to additional solder temperature stress, broken wires, or tweezer damage. This poses a challenge, as the fuming acids used for decapsulation most likely will spill onto the circuit board, dissolving the package leads, damaging the resin layers, and potentially corroding and shorting the circuit board traces.

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