Abstract

X-ray tomography is a promising technique that can provide micron level, internal structure, and three dimensional (3D) information of an integrated circuit (IC) component without the need for serial sectioning or decapsulation. This is especially useful for counterfeit IC detection as demonstrated by recent work. Although the components remain physically intact during tomography, the effect of radiation on the electrical functionality is not yet fully investigated. In this paper we analyze the impact of X-ray tomography on the reliability of ICs with different fabrication technologies. We perform a 3D imaging using an advanced X-ray machine on Intel flash memories, Macronix flash memories, Xilinx Spartan 3 and Spartan 6 FPGAs. Electrical functionalities are then tested in a systematic procedure after each round of tomography to estimate the impact of X-ray on Flash erase time, read margin, and program operation, and the frequencies of ring oscillators in the FPGAs. A major finding is that erase times for flash memories of older technology are significantly degraded when exposed to tomography, eventually resulting in failure. However, the flash and Xilinx FPGAs of newer technologies seem less sensitive to tomography, as only minor degradations are observed. Further, we did not identify permanent failures for any chips in the time needed to perform tomography for counterfeit detection (approximately 2 hours).

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.