Circuit World, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp. 26-29, 1997.

Plastic-Encapsulated Microcircuits (PEMs): Long-term Dormancy Studies

E.B. Hakim, J. Fink, S.M. Tam, P. McCluskey, and M. Pecht


For many years, the concern over the use of plastic encapsulated microcircuits (PEMs) has been their capability to survive in harsh environments over a long term with continuous or intermittent operation. The issues centered around operational life limitation, due to failure mechanisms associated with internal corrosion, wires and wire bonds, and surface effects. It has now been conclusively demonstrated that best commercial practices will ensure that PEMs made using best commercial materials, processes, and quality techniques will permit devices to perform reliably in the most severe environments.

Missile systems are low volume production items, which use relatively few microcircuits. They are required to operate for very short times after being unpowered (dormant) for very long times (10 to 20 years) and exposed to humidity, temperature cycle, and mechanical shock. This paper will address reliability concerns and provide data from studies which were performed to determine if PEMs could survive such long-term unbiased applications. These studies include analysis of PEMs (some date coded 1968) from inventory or various storage locations and from applications where the electronic modules containing PEMs were stored for 10-12 years in various environments. Regardless of the storage conditions, the significant factor is that these early vintage commercial grade PEMs, without screening or incoming inspection, survived assembly and extended storage.

Full article in .pdf format (Adobe Acrobat required) is available to CALCE Consortium members.

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